By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
Busy as bees buzzing around their hives, last-minute tax-return filers scurried to area mail boxes Monday, hoping to beat the midnight deadline.
Unlike the bees, most of them weren't happy. Finding nearby parking spaces was impossible, lines were long, and many of the envelopes were stuffed with money owed the Internal Revenue Service.
"I have to pay them, that's why I waited," said Bob Anness, a Boardman resident.
"My accountant waited until the last minute," said Tom Scarny of Canfield, explaining why he mailed his return on April 15.
He was one of the few leaving the Boardman post office with a smile Monday afternoon.
Ordinarily, Scarny mails his return early. Waiting until the deadline this year didn't matter much, he said. He had to send what he termed "a pretty steep" payment, and he didn't mind holding on to his money as long as he could.
Lines at the post office moved quickly even though they were long, he added. "They have enough people working."
Although mailing his return in the midst of the rush wasn't problematic, Scarny said he still thinks he had to pay too much.
Larry Curtin of Boardman thinks he had to pay too much, too. This is the first year he won't receive a refund, so he purposely waited to mail his payment until April 15.
In years past, Curtin said, he used his refund for "something fun." This year, because he had to pay, he isn't planning to splurge on anything fun.
The way Americans are taxed, he added, isn't fair -- a flat tax of 13 to 15 percent across the board would be fairer.
Ellen Wagner of Struthers isn't so sure.
"On the surface, flat taxes seem more fair," she said. "But I haven't investigated it enough to know for sure."
Determining if the cumulative amount Americans are taxed is fair isn't easy either, she said. "We need to be taxed because we need services, but sometimes I wonder where all the money goes."
Wagner, who recently moved to Struthers, barely beat the deadline to mail her return because her accountant had just finished preparing it.
Because she is not originally from the area, Wagner said, it took her a while to get referrals and find an accountant to do the work. She said she hasn't prepared a tax return herself in 30 years.
A little lost
Pauline Shaffer of Struthers didn't mail her return sooner, because she'd misplaced it.
Then, she said, it took a while to get a replacement form completed. When she did, Shaffer said, chuckling, she found the one she'd lost.
Unlike most of the last-minute filers, Shaffer expected a refund. This year, the money she gets back will be spent on something very special.
"My granddaughter's getting married," she said, "so I'm going to use it for that."
Kathy Guerriero of Struthers and Mary K. Paidas of Boardman were also mailing tax returns at the last minute, but not their own. They both said that their tax returns were completed and mailed weeks ago. Their children, however, waited until the last minute and then asked mom to drop them in the mail.
"My son is a student teacher, and he could have mailed it later today," Guerriero said. But she opted to mail it in the morning before the lines got too long.
Paidas said her children are teen-agers and she procrastinated in mailing their returns.
Throughout most of the afternoon, lines were long but moving steadily at the Boardman and Poland post offices.
In Struthers, lines were virtually nonexistent by midmorning. But when JoAnn Mazzupappa, a clerk, opened the lobby at 8:30 a.m., she said, "There was a line out the door. We don't get a lot of lines here, but today there was one."
Most of the customers, Mazzupappa said, were mailing tax returns and wanted to have weights checked to ensure they had included enough postage; a few were scurrying to find tax booklets so that they could prepare their returns.