Raleigh, N.C. — Many North Carolina residents continue to seethe as they wait for state tax refunds they believe are slow in coming.
Department of Revenue Secretary Ken Lay said Friday that, like last year, refund checks are going out later than in years past. He blamed the slow economy and the state's budget deficit for the delay.
"It's much like how you manage your own family checkbook," Lay said. "Toward the end of the month, you want to make sure you have enough of the balance so that you can write all the checks that you need to write."
The state has already processed nearly a million tax refunds, totaling $690 million, according to the Department of Revenue.
Lay said the state has until May 31 to issue refunds before they are considered late and taxpayers start accruing interest on the tardy payments. Last year, he said, everyone who was due a refund received it by May 13.
The explanations aren't enough for some taxpayers.
"If my personal economy is bad – my budget – and I owe taxes and can't afford to pay them, they're not going to give me a three- to four-week, even six-week window," Wake County taxpayer Patti Clapper said. "Give me my money."
Clapper said she waited about six weeks longer than she expected to last year to receive her refund, and she is worried her refund is delayed again this year.
"I haven't really had the experience of having to wait this long to get money back," she said. "I started asking my friends, 'When did you get yours back?' 'Did you e-file?' and some of them were saying they filed four weeks ago and they're still waiting to get theirs back."
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.