Identity theft is real, and it is REALLY affecting when we get our state refunds.
Remember being in elementary school, when your teacher would tell the class that if one more student misbehaved, then the entire class would be forced to sit inside for recess that day? There was always that one kid who would ruin it for everyone.
That is similar to what’s going on with identity theft affecting state refunds this year. State revenue departments decided that there were too many cases of fraudulent activity and that they needed to do something. This means that refunds are being delayed a bit in order to double check certain taxpayer information.
Let’s take a look at the states that took a little extra precaution this 2016 tax season.
Illinois and South Carolina
These guys put provisions into play from the very beginning of the season. If you filed your state return in January or February, then you wouldn’t have seen your refund until at least mid-March. On top of that, if you filed your return after March 1st, 2016, then your refund was sent approximately three weeks from the date it was accepted.
Taxpayers could be waiting for their state tax refund anywhere from four to sixteen weeks after being accepted. Good thing that Maui ranks as the #1 vacation spot in the U.S.! You won’t need to travel too far to relax and forget about the lack of refund money you’re waiting on.
Identity theft in the Great Potato State has increased by nearly 64% since 2014! Extra safety measures means taxpayers will be waiting about seven weeks for their state refund from the time it is accepted. The ID Department of Revenue recommends responding ASAP to any letters you receive from the Tax Commission to speed up the processing time.
In honor of the Pelican State, I’m going to casually mention the following metaphor. Don’t shoot the messenger. That being said, Louisianians may be waiting approximately 60 days after being accepted to receive their state refund.
Our peach-lovin’ taxpayers could be waiting about four weeks from filing to see their state refund. Filed via snail mail? Plan on checking your mailbox in six to eight weeks.
Dixie’s heart must be big! Alabama has set up an entire Identity Protection program for their taxpayers. This makes sense, as this state ranks #14 in the nation for identity theft complaints. As a program member, plan to wait eight to twelve weeks for your Alabama tax refund.
Alabama will also delay refunds being issued to taxpayers whose employers have not filed employee W-2 forms on time.
The Salt Lake State was delaying any refunds from being issued until March 1, 2016 for taxpayers whose employer had not filed their company W-2 forms with Utah by the January 31st deadline.
My state wasn’t mentioned. What gives?
There is another possibility that could be delaying your state refund. Your state could randomly select you for something called an identity verification. This means that a letter was mailed to you (or should have been). You’ll need to visit your state’s website and take the verification ‘quiz’. Once this is completed and your identity is confirmed, your refund will be issued. If your refund has been delayed past the normal processing time, you may wish to contact your state’s tax agency and inquire whether additional verification is needed.
What does this mean for our state refunds in future tax seasons?
It’s tough to say. If we’re going for the whole history repeats itself scenario, then these precautionary measures will probably continue and most likely persuade some of the other states to follow suit.
Whatever the case may be, it’s important to realize that the identity theft rate has hit an all time high. That means that something has to happen to prevent it from recurring in future tax years. So it’s not to annoy us, taxpayers. It’s to protect us.