Local Politics

Taxpayers peeved about late N.C. refunds

Posted February 15, 2010

— Some North Carolina residents expressed irritation Monday over the fact that state tax refunds will once again be slow in coming this spring.

Antonio McCarver said he didn't receive his 2008 state refund until six to eight months after filing his return last year, and he isn't eager for another wait.

Department of Revenue, Revenue Department State ahead of 2009 pace for tax refunds

"It was quite a while. It was enough to agitate me because they wouldn't wait that long to get their money if I owed them," McCarver said. "It makes me wonder what is really the health and stability of our state."

Department of Revenue Secretary Kenneth Lay said refunds aren't running behind yet but likely could in the next few weeks. It's simply a matter of math, he said – the state can't send out more money in refund checks than it's bringing in through tax collections.

During the 2009 fiscal year that ended last June, for example, the state collected $16.8 billion in taxes, which was the lowest total in four years. Officials cite the slow economy for the drop in income tax and sales tax payments.

"If you are due a refund, you will get a refund," Lay said. "We want to make sure that people know as early in the process as possible (about potential delays)."

Last year, state officials didn't notify taxpayers of slow processing of refunds until March, when many were already checking the mail or their bank accounts for their money.

This year, the Department of Revenue has added a section to its Web site where people can check the status of their refund and learn more about common problems that hinder issuing checks.

Lay said the situation already looks better than last year. The department has already processed 590, 720 returns – more than twice as many as at this time a year ago – and has issued $400.6 million in refunds, which is $137 million more than mid-February 2009.

"I was new in the job last year, and so we didn't quite anticipate the economy nor the way it hit us," he said. "This year, we wanted to make sure that we were way out in front of it."

Still, taxpayers said being upfront doesn't pay the bills.

"I think that's horrible," Tonya Strickland said of delayed refunds. "I need it now."

"I feel for people who are really depending on those refunds. It's such a hard time for everybody," Sarah Esser said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • youngsforlife Feb 25, 2010

    We received a "special letter" concerning our refund. They put it on hold until we proved our children were ours. This is the second year they have done this to large families. We had to send in documentation for all our children proving them to be ours - information they are already have access to!

  • ou8122 Feb 16, 2010

    Democrat Governor.
    Democrat Senate.
    Democrat House.

    What was the question?

  • MadderMan Feb 16, 2010

    Hey cameragirl, I have no doubt that the property taxes in Knox county are high, look at the money they spend on the interstate system there. But Knox county is just one of 95 counties in Tn, and I am sure there are just as many low taxrate counties there as there are here in NC. Can anyone say Sampson county? There is a reason it is the poorest county in NC, they don't charge enough! Try less than $300 for 3 1/2 acres of land outside the county seat. Take that, Wake county. And you are only a 45 minute drive from my house!

    Still the point is, the state should be just as diligent about returning money overpaid to them as they expect us to be in paying what we owe. Period.

  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Feb 16, 2010

    Genius says:

    "As long as you get the refund, it don't matter when it gets to you."


    Try that with your phone bill, your light bill, your TAX payment, your car payment, your rent payment. Let us know how it works out.

    Why would you feel it's ok for the government to break a contract or delay payment to you, when if YOU did that, you'd be penalized?

    Please let us know why that's fair.

    Go ahead now, we're listening....

  • Tax Man Feb 16, 2010

    The state "punishes" employers for not turning over the taxes immediately and they "punish" taxpayers who do not pay their taxes immediately. So we should "punish" the state for holding on to our "trust account" money that is OURS, not the States! The state should pay the refunds within ten days of filing unless there is some problem with the return - or pay the same penalties they charge us - 10% of the total amount plus interest at 8% until the money is paid in full! And while they are at it, how about living within the budget? If you only spent what you earned (not what you "expect" you will earn) then you would always have the refund money to pay on time!

  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Feb 16, 2010

    "More than likely, you don't have much coming back is why you are so upset."

    So thievery is ok as long as it's below a certain amount?

    Try telling that to a cop.

  • rescuefan Feb 16, 2010

    "More than likely, you don't have much coming back is why you are so upset.

    I wish I didn't have one coming to me, but I do. Unfortunately, I owe federal this year and am going to wait for my state refund to come so I can pay it. I have already made adjustments to my W-4 withholdings to even it out for next year.

  • wildcat Feb 16, 2010

    give you what is owed to you

    More than likely, you don't have much coming back is why you are so upset.

  • cameragirl Feb 16, 2010

    I too was born in TN and have family still there. Even though their sales tax is only 9.25% they have very high property tax. I checked the Knoxville area. They have a tax rate of $2.46 for City and $2.36 for County. On a $261,500 home that would be a property tax of $12,604. In Wake Forest the same value home would only be $2,730 with a $20 recycle fee totaling $2,750. That is a $9,854 difference. I would say that it evens out in the long run. The only difference in TN and NC is that they seem to know how to manage their money in TN. Our great governors of the State of NC need to learn how to manage money and not put in all these special provisions for their special pet projects into the budget. Keep it to the bare bones. No more teapot museums and the like. We need services not greenways, specialty museums and the like. Also our governor and the legislative body should have to pay their own way on any trips they take, not the taxpayers of NC. Bet that would stop their travel!!!

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Feb 16, 2010

    micah, assuming that is true that's a great point. Sure many of us could have researched the laws, but in this case I consider it a failure of journalism. Seriously, how do they not include relevant information like that in the story?