Energy rebate checks on their way

By Tonya Garner

The check is in the mail, or at least for most New Mexico taxpayers.

The first round of tax rebate checks were mailed Oct. 30, according to the State of New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department.

“Anyone who filed a 2004 tax return should automatically receive a check,” Tax and Revenue Department Secretary Jan Goodwin said. “Anyone who did not file a 2004 return can receive the rebate by filing a tax return in 2005.”

Taxpayers who claimed zero dependents will not receive a rebate, officials said.

Jennifer Rivera of Fort Sumner said she was upset to learn she wouldn’t receive a check. She said she was counting on receiving her rebate check.

“They (New Mexico tax officials) should have been more honest,” Rivera said. “It is very annoying.”

Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, said the Senate approved the tax-relief package unanimously with a vote of 42-0.

“This was designed to help all taxpayers because of the crunch caused by high gasoline prices,” Harden said.

According to Harden, taxpayers seemed to be confused because the rebate checks are being referred to in different ways. He stressed every taxpayer who filed a 2004 state tax return should receive a check.

However, Harden said the rebate checks should not be confused with the energy rebate, which was also part of the tax-relief package approved by the Senate.

“That rebate is geared toward low-income families,” Harden said. “It will come in the form of a break on their utility bill, not as a check.”

The senator added taxpayers such as Rivera still have the opportunity to receive a check by adding exemptions to their 2005 state tax return.

Clovis Postmaster John Yeast said he has not noticed many rebate checks being processed through the 21st Street Post Office.

However, the Portales resident said his family did receive their check over the weekend.

“We didn’t get much back because of what we made last year,” said Yeast, a father of two. He said the rebate money will be added to the family Christmas fund.

The tax-relief package was signed into law Oct. 28 by Gov. Bill Richardson and includes $107 million in tax rebates. Area residents can expect rebate checks ranging in amounts from $64 to $289.

According to Taxation and Revenue, the rebate check amount will depend on adjusted gross income and the number of exemptions an individual claimed. Goodwin said a taxpayer who claimed six exemptions and has a gross adjusted income of $10,000 could expect to receive a rebate of approximately $249 while a taxpayer who earns $60,000 and claims the same amount can expect to receive $119.

Goodwin said the department mailed approximately 613,000 rebate checks.

Scam alert

Secretary Jan Goodwin said the Tax and Revenue Department hotline has received calls from taxpayers who were asked to provide their Social Security number by an individual claiming to be an employee of the Taxation and Revenue Department. Goodwin said the Taxation and Revenue is not calling taxpayers and asking for personal information to process rebate checks.