Business feature: Tax Day, credit eligibility counting down

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The clock is ticking on some tax credits and Thursday’s deadline is drawing closer.

Close enough, in fact, that Mary Hernandez said at this point in the season, she tells people with complicated returns to file extensions.

“Everybody knows this day is coming around,” she said, explaining during the last week when, “They run in the door with a box full of papers,” she helps customers fill out an extension.

Hernandez owns and operates Hernandez Tax Inc. on Prince Street.

“We’ve just been doing this so long, we’re not going to panic,” she said.

Typically, Hernandez said the customers she deals with from the beginning of April to the deadline are the procrastinators who owe taxes, whereas the customers who are expecting refunds generally come in to file as soon as possible.

Clovis Postmaster John Yeast said local post offices will have normal business hours Thursday, with the office on 21st Street closing at 5 p.m. and the Gidding Street office closing at 4:30 p.m.

It doesn’t seem to matter what time the post office closes, he said “In years past we did stay open longer (and) we still had the same number of procrastinators we do now,” he said.

As the deadline nears the post office sees more traffic from those reluctantly mailing off their tax payments, Yeast said tax season overall is less busy for the post office than it used to be, with people filing online to hasten receipt of their returns.

Yeast said mail in the collection box in the parking lot to the west of the 21st Street office will be collected at midnight and will receive an April 15 post mark.

This year, taxpayers have had access to some good tax credits, many of which are getting ready to expire, Hernandez said.

To take advantage of the first-time home-buyers credit of up to $8,000, home-buyers need to have a firm contract by April 30 and have to have closed on their home by July, she said.

The credit includes buyers who purchased in 2009 also, she said.

Another credit that will be disappearing soon is the long-term homeowner’s credit, which is for people who have been in their home for at least five out of the past eight years.

But not everybody is happy this year, she said. Withholding tables were lowered this year, which hits people without children, particularly retirees who aren’t receiving the child tax credit.

“We’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place,” she said, explaining at 61-years-old, she too fell into that category this year. “We’re all older people.”

Laughing, Hernandez said even though it has been a little shocking to some, it’s still less expensive to pay the extra tax than it is to raise a child these days.