More than 5K state tax returns still unpaid

More than 5K state tax returns still unpaid

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Haven't gotten your state tax refund yet? You're in good company.

The state estimates 5,000 to 10,000 people still haven't gotten their state tax returns. And many aren't happy about it.

"We've had people calling every week, going 'Where's my money?'" said Hank Erwin, owner of Hank’s Tax Service.

He said he's been hearing from frustrated customers over delayed tax returns since last year, when the state increased fraud prevention measures, slowing state tax returns.

"This year is less than last year, but last year was the worst year ever," he said, of the call volume.

Mallory Fujitani, of the state Department of Taxation, said the extra security measures might be a headache, but they're also much-needed.

"We do need to protect the taxpayers' money, and we want to make sure we don't send it out to criminals, basically," he said.

The state has already sent out around 500,000 refunds, totaling roughly $360 million. Additionally, after July 20, taxpayers will earn 4 percent interest on unpaid refunds.

Still, she recognizes the frustration of those taxpayers still waiting.

"Unfortunately, we do have some taxpayers who are waiting longer than the usual few weeks it takes to process. That doesn't mean we've lost your return. That just means it's taking longer to process."

But it's not just the department's additional scrutiny that's causing delays. Oftentimes, there are filing errors.

"Very simple mistakes somebody could have avoided if they just spent a little more time before they dropped it into the mail,” Fujitani said.

Erwin added, "Doing them right is better than doing them fast. Make sure you have receipts on all these things you're claiming on these tax returns."

Another tip for taxpayers is to file electronically. Electronic filing programs have built in safeguards that won’t allow a preparer to submit a form if it’s incomplete.

To check the status of your tax return online, click here.

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