Christmas Carolers Banished from Post Office

Just in case you were considering the local post office as one of the stops on your caroling route this year, think again.  It would be a violation of USPS rules.

A group of carolers dressed as characters from the classic tale A Christmas Carol popped into a post office in Silver Springs (Montgomery county) Maryland recently and were told to leave by a manager. And there was no indication they were singing off-key. It’s just that the USPS does not permit public assembly inside any of its branches. In the words of USPS spokesperson, Laura Dvorak:

[T]he carolers . . . were in violation of the Postal Service’s rules on public assembly and public address. Inside the post office, however, the expectation is that public assembly will be either conducted or sponsored by the Postal Service.

This has caused quite a bit of stir on the Internet in the past few days. Some groups say this is all part of a larger scheme to de-emphasize Christmas and eliminate “anything remotely connected to anything religious” during the holidays (a.k.a., the “war on Christmas”) despite all the Christmasy — even religious-themed — stamps available this time of year.

Will IRS Continue to Ship Via USPS?

As you may know, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will be scaling back its operations in a major way come next spring.  Over the years, the internet has caused most of us to go “paperless” in virtually every aspect of our lives, which in turn has damaged the paper industry and also those in the business of shipping paper. USPS does not receive funding from tax dollars; instead, it is dependent on the revenues it generates from postage income. Not surprisingly, the USPS is hurting financially. In fact, it plans on closingover half of its mail processing centers to remain viable, which will certainly affect speed of delivery.

If you have tax problems or if you work in the tax relief industry, you know first hand how much mail the IRS sends through the USPS. In case you’re wondering, the IRS doesn’t ship for free. “The United States Postal Service bills the IRS on monthly basis via the Intergovernmental Payment and Collection (IPAC) for one-twelfth of the yearly postage estimate” (IRM

Internal Revenue Manual 1.22.4 contains detailed guidance on postage accountability and reporting requirements for IRS personnel. Although one of the aims of this guidance is to reduce waste,  it seems that much more could be done to reduce the IRS’ reliance on a mode of communication that is becoming more outdated and less reliable. It will be interesting to see how the changes at USPS will affect one of its largest customers, the IRS.

The Postage Stamp Controversy

The United States Postal Service has always honored great men and women by putting their faces on postage stamps. But nobody ever really aspired for that honor because it has also always signified that you were, well . . . dead. In fact, 5 years dead — that was the rule. But not now. The USPS recently announced that it will begin to honor living souls starting in 2012.

And you can vote for your top 5 living candidates on Facebook, Twitter, or through the mail. Then the Postmaster General’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) will convene to pour over all the nominees and make their selections.

I wonder if this is a good idea. The USPS, in an effort to appear “relevant and contemporary” has definitely stirred up a little controversy.

The 5-year rule just makes sense.The thing about a dead guy is he can’t do anything further to tarnish his reputation and cause anyone to regret honoring him on a stamp. And the 5-year buffer even gives a little more time to uncover any skeletons. Of all the living people who deserve to be recognized on a stamp, how many people are going to vote for their favorite author or philanthropist? They won’t. There are going to be 50,000 votes for Lady Gaga and Brian Wilson. I’m certain that celebrity stamps would be hugely popular, but what happens when these living celebrities do something distasteful or illegal after the stamp has been put into circulation? I don’t know, maybe it wouldn’t matter. The government may not approve, but I doubt the popularity of the stamp would suffer.

Read the entire USPS Press Release here.