Local Politics

Some N.C. taxpayers wait two months for refunds

Posted June 18, 2010 4:14 p.m. EDT
Updated June 18, 2010 6:21 p.m. EDT

— More than two months after tax day, some North Carolinians are still waiting for their state income tax refunds.

The State Controller's Office estimates that the state still owes $319 million in 2009 income tax returns. Revenue officials said the state will be paying back at least $160 million of that early next week.

Gerald Wichmann and his wife Barbara filed their tax return April 8. He said they had no idea how long they would wait for their $1,051 return.

"It's always been no big problem. This is the first time we've ever really had any difficulties," Wichmann said.

The state Department of Revenue had a May 31 deadline to issue the refunds. Once that deadline passed, frustrated taxpayers asked WRAL News to find out why they were still waiting for their checks.

"Taxpayers are frustrated, and we understand that," DOR spokeswoman Beth Stevens said. "We are working as quickly and diligently as we can to get those refunds out as quickly as possible."

Officials with the Controller's Office said that the basic problem is cash flow. The state can't pay all the refunds at once and be able to pay its other bills, officials said.

"Unfortunately, we can't anticipate from week to week what the cash flow is going to be," Stevenson said.

Wichmann said that uncertainty is what bothers him the most. No one has been able to tell when he'll get his check, he said.

"I really got the most frustrated when I couldn't get an answer as to a window when I could anticipate it," he said.

So far, the state has paid out an average of $10 million in refunds per week, Stevens said, for a total paid out to individuals of almost $1.4 billion.

The state owes those who filed their taxes on time 5 percent interest on refunds not paid by May 31.

"Better yet, just send me a check," Wichmann said.