I-Team 10 investigation: Missing state tax returns

Posted at: 06/28/2013 4:48 PM
Updated at: 06/28/2013 5:05 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

We all trust that when we file our taxes, the state is going to process it and get whatever money we're owed back to us. So you can imagine the shock when one woman from Brighton called the state to find out the status of her filing and was told that they can't find it.

I-Team 10 was on to something when two other people – completely unrelated – also contacted the I-Team saying the same thing happened to them. They all have one thing in common -- they filed their taxes on paper, not online.

Nancy Uffindell knew something was wrong when she still didn't have her tax refund eight weeks after she filed it. “ I filed on April 15 and I called on June 17 so it was just over eight weeks that I checked on my tax return.”

Her hand written notes from a phone conversation with a rep from the state Department of Taxation and finance says "not found." Uffindell says it's because she filed her taxes on paper. “So they have a huge backlog as they told me on the phone and they just don't know how to handle it. I called Albany and a woman there told me there's a huge backlog of paper returns and to just wait.”

So I-Team 10 contacted the state to find out what happened. We asked how they could lose a paper filing. Their response was they can't talk about individual cases but when a return is lost in the mail, they work directly with the taxpayer to promptly resolve the situation. The state says 95-percent of all tax refunds have gone out this year and 90-percent of all filings were done electronically.

Uffindel doesn't have a copy of her paper return but she has the receipt from the post office.
The zip code matches the zip code on the state's tax form. “I’m worried about people who are waiting for their tax return possible to buy medication or their groceries, just to get by day to day. And they're waiting just like I am. They probably think that they're tax refund is just slow in coming. That's what I thought.”
The state says the fastest, easiest way to secure your tax refund is to file electronically. People with incomes under $57,000 can do it for free through the department's website. People who make under $51,000 can have their taxes filed for free by trained volunteers.

The state pays interest on any refund that they do not get back to the taxpayer by May 15. The refund owed to Uffindel is growing everyday.