Half a Dozen States Delay Tax Refunds
By MICHAEL COOPER
Procrastination is no longer just for the taxpayers who wait until the last moment to file their tax returns. Thanks to the economic downturn, at least a half-dozen cash-poor states are now delaying their tax refund checks.
Hawaii initially planned to delay all tax refunds until July, when its fiscal year begins, but decided two weeks ago that its finances were healthy enough to begin sending checks to people whose tax returns were processed back in January. New York briefly postponed sending out half a billion dollars worth of refunds until its new fiscal year began in April. Rhode Island extended its tax filing deadline until May 11 to help taxpayers who were still reeling from severe floods; now the state is delaying refunds to make sure it has enough money left to pay debts coming due in June.
“We’re sorry for the inconvenience. We understand that people are relying on the money for credit card bills, etc., etc., but we’ll get them out as fast as we can,” said Paul L. Dion, the chief of Rhode Island’s Office of Revenue Analysis, explaining that 34,423 refund checks were being held up as the state ensures that it has enough cash on hand to pay its debts on time. “For the record, mine is on hold as well.”