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Ventura County Focus | Countywide

Late Tax Filers Feel Pressure in Hunt for Forms

April 16, 1998|BRENDA LOREE

As it grew later and later Wednesday, last-minute 1040 filers were focused on finding stamps or mailboxes with late pickup hours.

Earlier in the day, however, the focus of procrastinators was still on the hunt to find someplace--anyplace--that stocked the tax forms they needed.

Although public libraries have not carried income tax forms for years, many people kept reference desks busy with requests for the forms. And many did not realize that post offices keep only half a dozen of the more straightforward federal forms on hand. Even the Internal Revenue Service in Oxnard carries few California tax forms.

At the main Ventura post office, employee Sandy Rose patrolled the public areas, pulling people out of line and directing them to the blank tax form display.

So many people were looking for California tax forms, Rose said, that she had handwritten dozens of address strips to hand out that read "4820 McGrath"--the Ventura address of the state Franchise Tax Board.

Sina Salinas of Ventura arrived at the Franchise Tax Board the hard way; she found the offices Wednesday, but only after three false starts.

"Now I admit I'm a procrastinator, but I came to get a state payment installment form," Salinas said. "First I went to the library to get it, then I tried the post office. They didn't have it either so I went to the IRS office in Oxnard. They sent me here to the Franchise Tax Board. All on my supposed lunch hour."

But Salinas was a long-term planner compared with some who showed up at H & R Block outlets around the county Wednesday evening.

Mary Jean Valdes, a tax preparer at the midtown Ventura office, was prepared to tackle customers' taxes until 9 or 10 p.m. Wednesday--however long it took. Her customers' most common mistake, she said, was to come in without knowing their filing status.

"And I still expect someone to walk in this afternoon wanting to do tax forms for the three states they lived in during 1997. We can do it, but they essentially have to do four tax forms."

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