Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Computer System Delays N.J. Tax Refunds

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Computer System Delays N.J. Tax Refunds

Article excerpt

Sharon Patula filed her New Jersey income tax return back in March, weeks ahead of the state's deadline. But as mid-July approaches, she has yet to receive a refund. And the state hasn't been able to tell her whether the return is lost or just sitting somewhere unprocessed.

"We gave them $1,300 that didn't belong to them," said Patula, a former Hawthorne resident who now lives in South Carolina. "I'm very frustrated."

Patula is not alone, according to the state Department of Treasury. Nearly three full months after the deadline for taxpayers to provide their income tax returns to Treasury's Division of Taxation, the agency said it is still working to process roughly 183,000 refunds.

Some refunds could be delayed until the end of August, and Treasury officials are blaming a switch this year from an outdated system for scanning and processing returns to a new computerized system. This isn't the first time the state has had a problem with income tax returns in 2013, a reelection year for Governor Christie, a Republican who has been pushing a new income tax credit while out on the campaign trail.

Earlier in the tax season, Christie himself personally apologized to filers on his monthly radio show after a screening program designed to prevent tax fraud was found to be flagging returns too aggressively, causing unwarranted delays for thousands of filers.

Now, roughly 4 percent of the 4.7 million returns the Division of Taxation received this year have yet to be processed as the state transitions to the new computer system.

"During the transition period, the division has had to rely on manual review and processing of certain types of returns," Treasury spokesman Bill Quinn said.

"These include handwritten returns, non-resident returns and certain fiduciary returns - all of which require some manual processing."

The refund delay for those who filed handwritten returns or non- resident returns is likely to last a few weeks more, Quinn said.

"The division expects to have all outstanding handwritten resident and non-resident returns processed by the end of July," he said.

And all fiduciary returns, typically filed by trustees of estates, will be processed by the end of August, he said. …

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