LB Ryan Nece was an early tax filer this year, but he understands the stress of April 15
When the calendar hits April 15th, it's like the clock hitting the two-minute warning in Raymond James Stadium with the home team down six. And just like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do whatever is necessary to secure the game-winning touchdown, Bay area taxpayers pull out all the stops when their backs are against the wall. If anything, the IRS is less forgiving than the stadium game clock.
Bucs LB Ryan Nece knows the pressure of a ticking clock. On Tuesday, the 15th, he did what he could to ease the stress on taxpayers on that most infamous day of the year.
As anyone who has ever received a W2 knows, income-tax returns require an April 15th postmark to avoid additional penalties, and the unpleasantness of preparing those returns causes many citizens to wait until the deadline is imminent. Enormous April 15th lines are a given at every post office, so Nece figured he could help out at the St. Petersburg Postal Processing and Distribution Center. That's why he was at the post office on Tuesday with the federal employees, helping to collect returns and make the burden of submitting a 1040 maybe a little less, uh, taxing.
"One of my co-workers at the Bucs who actually works over at the (Tampa) airport post office brought this to my attention and I thought it was a good idea" said the second-year Buccaneer. "Turning in your taxes can be kind of stressful and I thought I could come over here and put some smiles on people's faces and have a good time."
Not all last-minute filers are motivated by a hatred of tax forms. Some actually enjoy the ceremony of visiting the post office every April 15 with thousands of their fellow citizens to get that all-important postmark.
"I just like to wait so I can take part in the festivities," said taxpayer Lonnie Rojas. "So I always wait until the last minute."
Believe it or not, 'festivities' is a good description of the scene at the St. Pete office. With cars stretching farther than the eye could see, filers were treated to free doughnuts, free bottles of water, coupons for a local fast food restaurant, a remote broadcast by a local radio station and, thanks to Nece, an opportunity to receive Buccaneer goodies.
Nece passed out stickers and team pictures to all the cars, and Buccaneers pennants to all the children accompanying their parents on their post-office journeys. Often, he engaged the eleventh-hour taxpayers in conversation, answering the obvious questions about the Buccaneers and his own tax preparedness. (Nece is an early filer, which he attributes to his business economics degree from UCLA.)
Denise Jackson, a St. Petersburg resident and an obvious Buccaneers fan, was one of Nece's more talkative visitors. "Meeting Ryan almost makes paying my taxes worth it," said Jackson, though 'almost' is surely the key word.
That sentiment was exactly what St. Petersburg Postmaster Tom Pawlowski was looking for on the annual Tax Drop Day. "It makes it a lot more fun for everybody coming through," said Pawlowski. "We've been doing this every year for a number of years and it seems to get bigger and better every year.
"More people are starting to participate every year and we appreciate the Bucs being here and helping us out tonight. It's just a fun night to get people through the line."
Nece also showed his appreciation for all of the postal workers, plus the volunteers who were busy distributing the goodies and collecting tax forms. Nece gave Buccaneers pennants to all the helpers he could find and autographed team pictures for everyone. At the end of the evening, the Buccaneer linebacker was pleased that he could help the post office turn April 15th into somewhat of a celebration.
"I think it does ease the stress a little," said Nece. "You have to wait in line and you know it's going to be a hectic day, but you come through and you get some doughnuts, some water, some coupons, you've got friendly people smiling at you. I think it makes it worth the wait."