Tax deadline fast approaching

By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom New Mexico

Post offices around the country will be postmarking income tax returns up until midnight on Tuesday night, helping last-minute filers make the April 15 federal tax filing deadline.

“We won’t be open until that time, but we’ll make sure that anything dropped into our mail drop until midnight gets postmarked. We’ll check the maildrop at midnight,” said Portales Postmaster Leanne Johnson.

Meanwhile, around town, tax preparers are urging people to get those income tax returns filed as soon as possible, and with good reason.

Besides the possibility of getting an income tax rebate from the government, filing a 2007 income tax return is a prerequisite to receiving an economic stimulus check the government will begin sending out in May to taxpayers that have filed an income tax return this year. To receive a check, taxpayers must have a valid Social Security number, an income of at least $3,000 and a filed 2007 federal tax return. Eligible people can receive up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples) and parents will receive an additional $300 for each child under 17.

In addition, millions of retirees, disabled veterans and low-wage workers usually exempt from filing a tax return must do so in order to receive a stimulus payment.

Mike Loniewski, manager of H & R Block in Clovis, said, “Fill out those 1040As. Even if you’re on Social Security and don’t fill them out year-to-year, have someone help you fill it out so you can get an economic stimulus check.”

Another thing Loniewski recommends is that people get their tax returns filed on time to avoid a late penalty, or to file for an extension. He said that extensions, which are free of charge, must be requested by the April 15 deadline as well. He said that with extensions, people are automatically given an additional six months to get their income tax returns filed.

“The only drawback to extensions,” Loniewski said, “Is that if you owe money, you have to send in at least the estimated amount due at that time.”

He also added that if people file for extensions, they can still receive economic stimulus checks, but not until they have filed their 2007 income tax return.

Security Finance in Portales is offering income tax preparation service and senior assistant manager Nancy Vargas said her office is expecting a last minute rush. They accept customers on a walk-in basis, but she advised people to not wait until the very last minute.

“Come in as soon as you get all your W-2 forms together,” she said.

For people who may have to pay taxes this year, Loniewski said that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) works with people.

“Everyone hates the IRS,” Loniewski said, “but believe it or not, they will work with you, and in some cases, they may even forgive late penalties. The best thing to do is work it out with the IRS.”