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States Delaying Tax Refund Checks

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Less than two weeks ago, USA Today ran story about how states were going to hold tax refunds for months. Barely a week later, New York announced that it has started delaying income tax refund checks, estimating that delaying refunds until April 1st will “save” the state about $500 million. New York joins states like Hawaii, where some residents won’t get refunds until August, and California, where residents are starting to get IOUs instead of refund checks.

We hope that state financial issues won’t extend until next year but if you want to be prepared (and they don’t pass laws preventing this), here are two things you can do to avoid this in 2011.

Adjust Withholding

If you owe taxes, this delay doesn’t affect you. If you are due a small refund, then this delay is inconvenient but it’s not a big deal. The key then is to adjust your withholding so that you have a small tax refund or a tax bill, that way you don’t really care if there is a delay in refund payments! Here are instructions on how to adjust your tax withholding but do this with care as you don’t want to owe too much. If you owe too much, you may have to pay penalties and interest.

File Early

If you filed in February or early March, you might have gotten your return in before New York State decided to delay refund payments. If you were due a refund, this is yet another reason why you should file early! You get your own money back faster, you get to earn interest on that refund (even though savings account rates have been low lately), and now you might avoid refund delays too!

While it stinks to have your refund delayed, it does spur on better financial behavior which is a bit like seeing a silver lining in a storm cloud.

{ 66 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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66 Responses to “States Delaying Tax Refund Checks”

  1. George says:

    I filed my CO tax return ELECTRONICALLY in JANUARY, and I have still yet to receive my refund. This is ridiculous. The website for the tax office says my tax return is still being processed and they told me the same over the phone and could not give me a time frame for when it would be done.

  2. amy says:

    I efiled in jan and Its march 16th and I still didnt get my state refund check i dont know whats the hold up but they said 60 days its past 60 days and nothing new

  3. Marg says:

    I’m in California, filed February 1, 2011, and still have not received my state refund. I got the Federal refund within a week. It’s interesting that other people in California on this board go them quickly. I tried checking my refund status online, and the system wouldn’t let me and told me to call. I tried calling, and they said call volumes are too high and call back. They do not put you on hold, they just kick you off, and every time I try to call back, it does the same thing. It’s like being in he**. There’s no way to get ahold of them. I have a confirmation number, so I know the filing went through.

  4. Steph says:

    We filed our federal and ny state taxes on 1/20/2011 and we got federal back no problem.. NY is still holding ours saying it needs additional review.. but that it was only 60 days and its over that now.. we got an update and the state had nothing to say except that we will just have to wait!! This is unacceptable in my book because if you own the the government money in the military they are quick to take it but damn when they own you.. its like pulling teeth… grrrrr

  5. Dave says:

    Received federal return within a week; it has been a month now and am still waiting for IL to find some money to pay me back! Sheesh – perhaps they’ll give themselves another pay raise for a job well done.

  6. Elsie says:

    Yeah, the wait is even longer than last year. Last year it took 2 months and a week. I e-filed this year on Jan.27 and still no check. I called the lady checked on it and said well its not finished processing, give it a little more time. She said they are back logged. Yeah right. This in Illinois. Don’t think about it and it may show up.

  7. flexy633 says:

    I filed in February via mail. Received the Federal refund check in a month, but no IL check as of today. My boyfriend received his IL check the same day as the federal one. I don’t know why the hell mine is delayed! We sent our taxes in on the same day.

  8. tammy says:

    I filed on april14th got my federal on the 22nd its now may22nd didn’t get my ny yet why is that

  9. claudine st louis says:

    I FILED MY TAX APRIL 28 AND NOW ISJULY 3 DID NOT GET MY MONEY.

  10. Phil Illinois says:

    Add Illinois to the list. I filed electronically
    April 10th and have not received my refund
    as of July 08

  11. Anonymous says:

    It sucks to have to wait this long. I have filed back in February via mail and they received it in the beginning of March. It is almost August and I have yet to receive my returns.

  12. Poor Californian says:

    Well, California is holding tax returns again this year. Filed in March.. It’s August 23rd.. still haven’t received tax return. I keep getting empty promises. Any way to ‘force their hand’?

  13. Melissa Illinois says:

    I filed on February 9th my federal return came the 22nd of February. I still have yet to received my Illinois state refund. It is about to be September and I had gotten a letter back in February stating the amount the state would be sending me shortly. I would like to know their definition of shortly six months a year maybe two years. Is there a time limit to how long they can make you wait after sending approval. If the state can not return the money that is owed they should not be taking it out. The so called improvements the state has made with the borrowed money proves to be more of a hassle to residents not to mention a corrupt former governor that was jailed for stealing money from tax payers for his own personal use I’m sure he has something to do with this. It’s still no excuse.

  14. Timmy says:

    Im wandering i did my taxes on turbo tax i filed on august 15 and they said i should be issued a check on the 2nd of september…im thinkin maybe it might come that day or not..idk does anybody know ..

  15. sparky says:

    My bf filled with Jackson Hewitt and paid for e-file in the great state of Kentucky. We reviewed his state but not his federal of 3800.00 here it is weeks after and still nothing if we don’t file taxes we get fined and lose things, but if the federal government don’t pay we can’t do a thing about it man our justice system sucks.

  16. Anonymous says:

    i received my federal income but not my state why is that

  17. Mercedes says:

    I live in Texas, I filed janurary 24 and we are half way threw march and I haven’t reiceved my taxes still!!! It says I’m support to get my taxe today but the day is almost gone and I haven’t reiceved anything! I would like for them to just let me know what is going on with my tax return but they just keep pushing the date back!!! 7 weeks and counting, still trying to get my tax return!!!

  18. Mike says:

    It sucks that the states think that they can hold our money that we earned. Because they cant get there act together and stop having the corrupt polititions digging into the till and taking rasies every year while the rest of the people are on unemployment and losing there houses that they worked so hard to get. what gives them the right all the while rasing the taxes on us higher and higher. How do they expect people to pay for it there is no jobs to be had. Maybe they should take a pay cut Like the rest of us. or justr vote them out of office. we put them there we should be able to get them out.

  19. Leslie says:

    Been waiting since the end of Jan 2012 for my state refund. I sent in all the correspondence on my end just for them to tell me that they are back logged and to wait another 6 months to get a reply. Are you serious I have a family to take care of. Is there something we can do about this!?

  20. Chelsea says:

    I filed my taxes in late feb. or early march. They said it should be here by May 22.sy 25 rolls around and I check the website again and it says your refund has been received & is being processed. What the hell. It’s been almost 6 months to get my shit back. By the time I get it back it will be time for me to file again. The government is really pissing me off. I’m busting my ass working 2 jobs & a full time student & single mother of a 2 1/2 yr old boy. I need that money. I keep having to borrow money because the government is being an ass.

  21. Pat Maybee says:

    I am from Illinois and filed the end of Jan. and it is july and still no money. And yet they want their money for stickers for the car like right now. I have asked many people and no one has an answer. I have called and all I get is a machine. No human wants to talk to me go figure. What’s up Illinois. You got money for gambling machines and junk like that but no money to pay us our dues.

  22. Marie says:

    I live in IL, mailed my return in April…it is July 13th…no refund. Automated system says they received it but can’t give me an estimated time as to when it will be processed. There have been delays due to late system changes and lack of resources….LOL They are being processed on a first come first serve basis…can’t wait to make my escape from this hell hole of a state!!!!

    • Bobbi says:

      I feel you I sent mine out in Feb’12 they sent me a letter stating that it showed 0 with holdings for state. I had to resend the same papers that clearly showed my state with holdings. Received another letter stating they need a copy of my last pay stub. So I again resend everything. I have called a few times requesting answers but they don’t have any. They just respond with it will take 120 days. Ok fine! I think its BS that the state can freeze all your accounts and sieze your property when iou owe them money, but I have to just sit and wait for my money that they owe me? WTF!!! It is now 2013 I have already filed my taxes so we will see which one I get first if any. Believe its time to contact state government.

  23. Anthony says:

    ditto for me and Illinois, filed in feb and now its aug. no refund no word.

  24. Alejandro says:

    In florida I filed my Federal return electronically in early March with an accountant and have been under review since April 3rd I was supposed to get the money by April 2nd then code 1121. I called on April 11th and was told if I dont get a letter in the mail not to worry and to call back in 2 months, I called on June 11th and was told the same thing. I never got a letter then. I called on August 15th and was told the same thing but this time I got a letter 10 days later. The letter said nothing as to why there was such a delay and that letter simply told me the same thing. I feel like I have been given the run arround. does the government really have no budget. and why were people who were not citizens allowed to file with thier Tin this tax season is a joke the IRS owes me almost $ 5000.00 in EIC for my kids. and it is my children who are suffering now. cause I need that money for them

  25. Eric says:

    I filed my taxes in Feb and it is now Sept 22. Im just wondering why i have to pay interest and penalties if im late but they dont tack on interest and penalties if there late. Kind of screwed up. Thanks Indiana!


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