State tax returns could be delayed 16 weeks

State tax returns could be delayed 16 weeks
Mallory Fujitani
Mallory Fujitani

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Like many taxpayers, Beatriz Cantelmo is hoping to see a refund pop up in her bank account any day now. But since she filed at the last minute, she's not holding her breath.

"It's a very long time to wait.  A lot of people are really counting on that refund to be able to pay additional bills," said Cantelmo.

At first the state said tax returns were delayed just a few weeks. But now the average wait time is four months.

Department of Taxation spokesperson Mallory Fujitani says the state had an influx of filings just before the April 20th deadline.  But that's nothing new. Fujitani says the real culprit is identity thieves.

After a flood of bogus tax filings, the state has implemented several new procedures when reviewing claims to make sure it's not paying money to imposters.

Those extra security steps require patience.

"We're hoping not to use the entire 16 weeks and we are still doing a lot of overtime a lot of shifts on the weekends," said Fujitani.

But there is another reason for delays. About 60 percent of Hawaii taxpayers still haven't caught on to the state's electronic tax filing system and automatic deposits.

"Paper tax returns take a lot of time," said Fujitani. "Cutting a check will actually add on a couple of weeks to the processing time."

If you don't get your refund by July 20th, the state will have to pay 4 percent interest on your refund.

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