Tax Day and Night

Tax day is here.  You did file, right?  Post offices are open late for people to get their returns in by midnight.  Some business and restaurants are offering freebies or discounts to help alleviate the pain of tax day.  I thought I would share this tradition of my childhood…

Growing up, my parents would always wait until the last-minute to file their taxes.  Even if the return was finished weeks prior to Tax Day, the envelope would sit on the desk in the kitchen until April 15th.

April 15th was a special day in our house.  When my parents would get home from work, we would pack a picnic dinner– usually bologna or ham sandwiches, chips and soda and load up in the car.

We’d head down to Dayton to the post office on Third Street.  The other crazy people who were filing late would be in their cars weaving up and down the streets near the post office, patiently waiting their turn to hand their return to the postal workers standing outside with huge mail bags.

As we sat in line, we’d eat our packed dinner and talk and sing to the radio at the top of our lungs.  Sometimes, people from other cars would strike up conversations with each other and one year Dominos was giving out free pizza slices.  The whole atmosphere was very Mardi Gras and party-like. Some years, we wouldn’t get home until 10 or 11.   It was fun to go to the post office that night.  It was a family tradition.

I remember feeling so grown up because I was always the one who was allowed to hand the return the worker outside.  Every year, my dad would tell us to say thank you to the worker when I handed the envelope to them.  They would be out there in sleet and rain many years, patiently taking the crazy, late filers’ returns.  Dad would always remind us that while we got to go home to bed, they would be out there collecting until midnight and then have to postmark the mail for it to be dated April 15th.

When I moved away from home, the tradition fell by the wayside.  I have suggested it to the Hubs a couple of times and he looked at me like I was nuts.  I have since become an accountant and live by the adage of “If they owe me money, they aren’t getting interest on it”– so, I file as soon as I get my W-2’s.  I file online– I don’t even mail a return anymore.  My return has already been sent and tucked away come April 15th.

Every year on Tax Day though, I feel a bit nostalgic.  I miss the excitement of a late night trip road trip.  I miss the carnival atmosphere.  I miss the picnic dinners.  I miss the creeping, weaving line of cars with their windows down enjoying the April night air.  I miss handing the envelope to the postal worker and telling them thank you.

Perhaps one year, I will file late for old times’ sake.  My kids need to experience a crisp April evening, munching a dinner picnic in the car, singing to the radio at the top of their lungs, and hanging out with the other procrastinating late filers.