Today is day of reckoning for taxpayers

April 15, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

Before the American flag was raised over the post office in El Centro this morning, people were filing in carrying two envelopes — one addressed to the state and one to the federal government.

Inside the envelopes? Their tax information, specifically whether they owe money to the government or will receive refunds.

With today the deadline for filing taxes, most of those interviewed outside the post office said they owed money and that is a key reason for waiting to the last moment to send their packets.

Those getting refunds said they filed weeks or even months ago. Some said they had already received refunds. Some said that money already had been spent.


Still, those who agreed to be interviewed this morning were able to joke about what they owe the government.

"I don't like the IRS to get my money until I'm ready for them to get it," quipped Ruben Ruiz of Imperial, who said between the state and federal governments he owes about $1,000.

Ruiz added, "I knew I would owe. That's why I wait until the last minute every year."

Ruiz was not alone.

The flow of people into the post office was slow until just after 8 a.m. As soon as the flag was raised over the building, the numbers started to increase.

Frank Pacheco of El Centro was one of those last-day filers. He said he might have missed the deadline if it weren't for the fact he was watching television Sunday night and saw a report on tax day.

"I started doing my taxes last night at 10," Pacheco said.

Fortunately, he said, he is getting money back. He added, "It's a good day."

Most interviewed said they do not think it is a good day.

Maria Jurado of El Centro owes. She said it is for the simple reason she owes that she decided to wait until the deadline. She said she did her taxes about a month ago but she saw no reason to rush making her payment to the government.

"I think all of us who have to pay wait," Jurado said.

El Centro resident Rachel Navarro also wasn't about to rush to make her payment.

She said her son in San Diego had prepared her taxes a while ago, but his backpack with her tax information was stolen, so her taxes had to be done a second time.

While that delayed her filing, since she owed she could wait until the last day to pay.

"I don't even work. I get a pension and Social Security and I still had to pay," she said.

At the El Centro post office, postal worker John Martinez was out at 8 a.m. to raise the flag. He said the fact it is the dreaded tax day doesn't add much work for postal employees. He said Mondays tend to be busy days anyway.

"It's just a regular day," he said as he finished raising the flag.

Throughout the Imperial Valley today, post offices were remaining open normal hours.

In El Centro the deadline to get mail postmarked for today is 4:45 p.m.; in Brawley the postmark deadline is 4:30 p.m.; in Calexico the deadline is 4 p.m., according to information provided by a U.S. Postal Service representative.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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