Taxpayers file last minute returns on April 15 deadline - Fox 2 News Headlines

Taxpayers file last minute returns, Chicago post office open until midnight

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CHICAGO (Associated Press) -

An annual American tradition has come around again of people sending in tax returns at the last minute on the April 15 filing deadline.

Procrastinators in Chicago who don't manage to finish their returns until after business hours Monday won't have many options.

The Chicago District of the U.S. Postal Service said only the main post office on West Harrison and Canal streets will be open until midnight. Collectors will line the street to grab returns from last-minute filers.

Other Chicago-area post offices, stations and branches will close at their regular times.

The Chicago-district postmaster, Karen Schenck, says 1 of the most common mistakes people make is not including enough postage on envelops with their returns.

Those envelops will be returned and those taxpayers will be considered late filers.

Gov. Pat Quinn said there's nothing wrong with waiting until the last minute to file tax returns.

The Chicago Democrat admitted to reporters Sunday that in the past he's been guilty of coming right up against the deadline. Quinn says it's no fun to pay taxes, but it's the price of living in a democracy.

Quinn has released his tax returns in years past. He said Sunday he plans to do so again soon.

He encouraged Illinoisans to support the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund. Taxpayers can make donations through a voluntary check off on Illinois income tax forms. The fund began in 2003 when Quinn was lieutenant governor.

Taxpayer money is being "flushed away" on late payments to vendors, according to Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.

If the state doesn't pay its bills after 90 days, private vendors become eligible for interest, which accumulates monthly until bills are paid. Topinka said the payments are another way taxpayers are paying for years of financial mismanagement.

The Peoria Journal Star reported that outstanding bills totaled roughly $6 billion last week. Last year, $86.3 million went to cover interest owed on late payments.

"Those dollars are being flushed away and taxpayers receive nothing in return," Topinka said. "It is the equivalent of a consumer maxing out his or her credit cards and then paying hundreds or thousands of dollars each month in interest payments alone."

Interest penalties have cost Illinois taxpayers more than $300 million during the past decade, according to Topinka's office. As the number of unpaid bills has climbed, so has the cost to taxpayers.

The newspaper's story is part of GateHouse newspapers' series on Illinois' backlog of unpaid bills.

Democrats in Springfield have proposed refinancing and consolidating the state's debt, arguing that paying 1 percent interest a month to vendors on late bills makes less sense than borrowing the funds at a lower interest rate on the open market.

Sen. Dave Koehler, a Peoria Democrat, has said such measures may be part of budget discussions this year.

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