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State tax refunds trickle in
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The Georgia Department of Revenue delivered 34,000 more refunds to residents last week and is on schedule to process more returns by the end of the month, according to a recent update from the department.
The department currently is working on paper returns that it received between Aug. 17-21, and it expects to issue refunds by Aug. 31.
“We are planning to wrap things up and be done by then,” said Reg Lansberry with the department’s tax law and policy section.
However, Lansberry added that anyone who filed an extension with the federal government would also automatically be granted an extension by the state. In that case, returns may still continue to arrive through October.
The delay in processing returns this year was due in part to a decrease in staffing, because of budget cuts by Gov. Sonny Perdue. The revenue department has since brought in 70 temporary workers to help process paper returns and since has been churning out refunds by the tens of thousands.
“We started a second shift several weeks ago and we are still working in two shifts,” Lansberry said. He said the DOR expects operations to return to business as usual next year.
And, any taxpayer whose return was unprocessed for more than 90 days can expect a little compensation; the state will pay interest in the amount of 1 percent per month after the 90-day deadline. Those checks will be issued separately.
While the recent deliveries bring the total number of issued refunds to more than 3 million, about 20,000 returns that were postmarked by July 15 are still backlogged. According to the department, these returns either require additional information or are flagged for review by the department’s fraud unit.
Electronically filed returns appear unaffected by the worker shortage; they are reported as being filed in a timely manner with refunds delivered by mail or direct deposit within six days.
Filing taxes electronically is free with services such as eFile, but for taxpayers who prefer assistance, certified public accountants and tax preparation companies like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt provide additional help for a fee.
Tax professionals suggest making sure the taxpayer’s W-4 form, on file with his or her employer, reflects the correct withholding status to avoid paying too much or too little throughout the year.
Lansberry said Georgia residents have been encourged to file electronically since the state began accepting such returns roughly a decade ago, “and we are encouraging them to do so next year.”
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