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Refunds: Some buy cars, others buy gas
Ashley Bates wears her Statue of Liberty uniform to try and attract customers to Liberty Tax Service. Americans have a month left before state and federal filings have to be submitted. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
Standing in the rain dressed like Lady Liberty doesn’t bother 22-year-old Ashley Bates.

As one of the Liberty Tax Service “mascots” – who stand at the corner of Louise Avenue and Main Street donning a uniform to look like the Statue of Liberty – Bates had a lot of time to think about what she was going to do when she got her Federal income-tax check.

And now she has a new ride to show for it.

“I went out and bought a Ford Aerostar van,” said Bates – wearing a poncho over the Lady Liberty uniform to protect her from Monday’s afternoon showers. “I’m definitely happy with it.”

With one month left before both state and federal income-tax forms have to be filed, those who don’t end up having to write a check to Uncle Sam usually look forward to getting a check in the early part of the year to help with everything from a new purchase to paying down debt.

Ripon resident Sean Ballard said he’s going to pass on electronics or the Jacuzzi tub that he’d like to add to his bathroom and instead invest the money he’s anticipating back into his home.

“I think this year I’m going to do a little bit of a kitchen remodel,” Ballard said. “The kitchen we have now was built in the ‘60s, so I think it’s time.”

Not everyone, however, is looking forward to spending what comes back to them on anything tangible.

While some businesses advertise to try and draw in customers who recently received their income-tax return, Steve Taylor says he’s taking what he gets back and putting it towards credit card bills and other financial matters to help improve his credit standing.

“Sure I’d like to go out and buy a 60-inch television or a surround sound system, but it makes a lot more sense for me to pay down bills right now,” Taylor said. “With the way that banks and financial companies are right now with credit, I think that paying it down will be the right move to make.”

Those who don’t anticipate getting much back at all – people like Delta College student Andrew Ramos who only worked during the summer – are putting the money in the one place that pains everybody.

“Right now for me it’s all about filling up my car,” Ramos said. “Going back and forth to Stockton three days a week costs money, and right now I don’t have a whole lot of it thanks to the $4-a-gallon prices that we’re facing.”