I-Team 10 presses lawmakers on why taxpayers aren't getting their refund

Posted at: 07/02/2013 5:47 PM
Updated at: 07/02/2013 7:28 PM

We have new information for you tonight on those missing state tax refunds. Dozens of taxpayers in our area still haven't gotten theirs, the majority filed their taxes on paper. As we first told you last night, the problem appears to be with the organization contracted by the state to process those returns.

This year -- for the first time -- the work of processing paper tax returns is being done by a new contractor. The organization is called New York State Industries For the Disabled. And all of the information we've gathered over the last five days points to that as the problem.

And the problem leaves taxpayers like Donna MacKenzie without her tax refund. We were with her as she called the State Department of Taxation and Finance to find out where her money is.

"You said you're just getting the april filers stuff processed right now?" MacKenzie asked. "Wow."

Here's where the problem is.

The state contracted with New York Industries for the Disabled (NYSID) to process paper tax returns. The contract is for five years and worth $16 million.

Click here to see the contract registry

The State Comptroller's Office audits all tax refunds and in an email said they've "identified some errors with paper filed returns."

The Comptroller's office says they've never seen so many mistakes and said the errors were made by the people processing the returns, not the taxpayers. The mistakes were things like; incorrect refund amount (either too low or too high), incorrect biographical information about the taxpayer, etc.

So today we tracked down state lawmakers and asked them about the problem.

   Brean: Did you know that the state contracted with this organization to help process tax returns?
Assemblyman Mark Johns, (R) Fairport: No. I've learned it now.  
Brean: What do you think about it?
Johns: Well I'm not a big fan of subcontracting out work like that. We have people at the state level who work at these agencies. They should be able to do the job.

   Brean: Did you get any heads up that taxation and finance was going to subcontract this out to a new company?
Sen. Joe Robach, (R) Rochester, Greece: No.

(Robach sits on the senate finance committee)

   Brean: Do you have any problem that this new contract with New York State Industries for the Disabled, that they're involved in processing people's paper form tax returns?
Assemblyman Joe Morelle, (D) Irondequoit, Majority Leader: I don't have a problem that disabled individuals are processing them. I have a problem with the State Department of Taxation and Finance of not having the capacity to do it.

We've reached out to NYSID. No comment yet.

   Assem. Morelle says he's requesting a meeting with the commissioner of tax and finance. The Department of Taxation and Finance said it is not commenting on the problem.

Who can you call?

If you don't have your refund and want to check on its status you can called the automated line: (518) 457-5149.

The number where you can eventually reach a customer service rep is: (518) 457-5181.

The state says 95 percent of all tax refunds have been sent out and 90 percent of all taxpayers file electronically.