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Post office lines reduced with more e-filings

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LAWTON, Okla._It's finally that day in April most Americans dread...tax day. But the IRS says this year, many taxpayers have decided against waiting until the last minute to file their returns.

At the end of last week, 100 million tax returns have been sent in, that's about 75% of the amount they expect to process this year. More and more people are e-filing their taxes making it easier on them and the IRS. When a person e-files, they know instantly how much they'll get back or how much they owe. But if you were to send the return in the mail, it could take weeks.

Before e-filing became the preferred method, many Americans used to flood the post office on April 15th.

"It's just more of a normal day at the post office now, not like in years past where everybody had an influx of people trying to get in here to get that last post mark at the end of the day," said J. T. Hoffman, Lawton Postmaster.

Most post offices, including the locations in Lawton, would even stay open as late as midnight.

"It was almost like Christmas. Near Christmastime you would have thirty to forty people deep in line," explained Hoffman.

But now that there's a much more convenient way of filing taxes, that's a thing of the past.

"We can tell them almost instantly how much money they are going to receive back and by e-filing it's instantly sent to the IRS. So it's just an easier process all the way around," said Eleanor Rogers, tax preparer.

If someone was e-filing and made a mistake like putting an incorrect social security number the system would automatically tell them and it could be corrected; if you mailed your return in it could take much longer.

"It can take six to eight weeks for the IRS to see that a name is spelled wrong or a social security number is wrong. And of course they've got to notify them back by mail and then they've got to correct it and send it back in," explained Rogers.

That means it could be another six to eight weeks before you could get your refund, with e-filing it usually only takes between five to twenty one days. But they are still people who prefer the old fashioned way.

"We had a pretty big rush over the lunch hour. You know people coming in and dropping that off because they won't make the five o'clock deadline here," said Hoffman.

If you didn't make the five o'clock deadline at the Lawton Post Office, most tax prep services in town are staying open late. Looking ahead to next year, tax preparers say the new health care law will affect taxes in many ways. Anyone who doesn't have approved health insurance will be fined $95.00, or one percent of their income, whichever is greater, and that number will go up every year.

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