Checks Are Still in the Mail : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Checks Are Still in the Mail Postal Delays Blamed on Software, Manpower Shortage

The Associated Press N E W Y O R K, July 28  Because of a problem with new software, tens of thousands of pieces of certified mail have piled up in postal warehouses, including important tax payments and legal documents. In one Connecticut case, a certified letter containing a $10 million check for a tax payment was delayed.

On Thursday, New York City finance department officials met with Postal Service executives to ask why $75 million of tax payments sat in the Church Street post office in Manhattan from mid-June until mid-July. People began to notice there was a lot of property tax money due and started asking where it was, said Dave Neustadt, a spokesman for city Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi. The city had already sent hundreds of notices demanding penalties and interest for failure to make June property tax payments on time. Certified Mail Woes Tax authorities in Connecticut discovered the problem in May, and found there were thousands of undelivered certified letters containing $140 million in tax payments in the West Hartford post office.

State tax commissioner Gene Gavin received a letter of apology dated May 26 from Jon M. Steele, the post offices vice president for Northeast operations. The apology came in response to the May 11 letter Gavin sent to Postmaster General William Henderson. This failure caused you embarrassment and loss of use of funds, Steele wrote. I can personally assure you that will never happen again. Problems with delivery of certified mail have also been reported in Delaware, Illinois and California, The New York Times reported today. It costs $1.40 to send a letter by certified mail and an additional $1.25 for the sender to get a receipt back confirming delivery.

No National Problem The problems were attributed to a failure to assign enough workers to move the mail and problems installing a new computer system for tracking certified mail.

Mark Saunders, a spokesman for the Postal Service in Washington, said Thursday that he was aware of problems only in Hartford and Los Angeles, adding that the Postal Service thought the problems were limited to mid-April, when income tax payments are due.

There is no national problem, Saunders said. The Postal Service issued a nationwide directive that on March 15, all old certified mail forms were to be destroyed and only new ones  with scannable bar codes  were to be used. But the software to scan the bar codes was not downloaded into post office computers until this week, Julie Rios, a Postal Service information systems manager, told the Times.

Taxpayers should not face penalties because of delays in delivering their payments, because deadlines are based on when a letter is postmarked, not when it is delivered, tax officials said.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 28, 2000

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