Tax Day promotions and protests
Say goodbye to that line at the post office. This year, demonstrations and marketing gimmicks are getting all the attention.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- It's that annual ritual that Americans love to grouse about, but this year's tax filing season is finally coming to a close.
American taxpayers will file roughly 136 million individual returns this year, with more than half of U.S. taxpayers completing their 1040s electronically.
That means the familiar line at the post office may be a little bit shorter this year.
The United State Postal Service (USPS) said it expects to deliver about 54 million tax returns to the IRS this year, down about 31 percent from just two years ago. As a result, post office locations in some states - including Nevada, Nebraska and Tennessee - are not extending their hours to accommodate tax procrastinators.
One last minute change to this year's filing deadline was an extension for Northeastern taxpayers affected by this past weekend's storm. Victims will get two additional days to file their tax return, the IRS announced late Monday, without incurring late filing and payment penalties. (Full story)
But like in years past, the familiar marketing tactics that accompany Tax Day are firmly in place.
At New York City's main post office, the credit card issuer Capital One promoted a new rewards card by handing out one-dollar bills.
In Los Angeles, Miami and Pittsburgh, Denny's is hitting the streets, doling out free cups of coffee to bleary-eyed taxpayers.
Marketing tactics like these, explains Tom Hansen, the executive creative director for New York-based marketing firm Wunderman, makes sense for marketers because they often have a captive audience - i.e. the taxpayer.
"It just gets your attention," said Hansen. "In this day and age it's so difficult to get people to hear your message."
Other companies tried to take advantage of this year's Tax Day frenzy leading up to the filing deadline.
If you purchased a ticket to one of the last New York Mets past five home games, you could get your taxes return done for free while watching the game.
Intuit, which publishes the popular tax preparation software TurboTax sponsored a rap contest hosted by rapper Vanilla Ice. The winning entry was good for $25,000 ("Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, it's just a breeze G").
The New York-based company Thumbplay, which sells cell phone ringtones, even tried to have a little fun with Tax Day, offering multiple ring tones reminders to pay your taxes for $2.99. "It was certainly meant to be fun and bring a a little light into this terribly unfun season," said a company spokesman.
'Heck no, we won't pay!'
As like in past years, Tax Day has become an opportunity for taxpayers to air their grievances.
Some demonstrations may be no larger than a handful of individuals gathered at a local post office, but dozens of events are scheduled across the country Tuesday, to protest an array of issues.
In Fresno, Calif., Fort Collins, Colo. and Brunswick, Ga. groups of protestors plan to spend part of Tax Day protesting the Iraq War and government military spending.
The group WakeUpWalMart.com is holding protests at Post Offices at 65 cities across the country Tuesday including Phoenix, Ariz., contending that the retailer is shifting its health care and business costs onto U.S. taxpayers.
A company spokesman for Wal-Mart fired back, pointing at the different cost-saving measures it offers to its shoppers like its $4 generic drug program.
"We think Tax Day is the perfect time to reflect on Wal-Mart's contribution to working families all across America," said Wal-Mart's David Tovar.
A time-honored tradition
But even with two additional days in this year's tax season, some Americans will still uphold that time-honored tradition of waiting until the last minute to file their return.
The IRS estimates that over 20 percent of taxpayers file their return during the final two weeks of the tax season.
This year's deadline to file a 2006 federal return is 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. And that holds true for taxpayers' state returns except for Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana and Virginia, all of which have a later filing deadline.
Taxpayers who are worried they cannot meet the filing deadline can still file for an extension. But remember, an extension to file is not an extension to pay your taxes. Taxpayers still have to pay their 2006 tax return before midnight Tuesday.