House Oversight Committee looking into tax return delays

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Tens of thousands of people are still waiting for their tax refunds from the state of Rhode Island.

It’s a story Call 12 For Action has been tracking for months – and now the House Oversight Committee is looking into the issue.

According to the Division of Taxation, about 45,000 people are still waiting for their refund checks.

Representative Patricia Serpa is the new chair of the House Committee on Oversight. She said it was important to her that her first hearing as chairwoman was about the refund delays. In the hearing, she included acting tax administrator Neena Savage and director of the Department of Revenue Rob Hull.

“I had one constituent who is actually in the process of moving for a new job and she needed the money to pay for the mover,” Serpa said. “So it really is an inconvenience for many Rhode Islanders.”

Serpa said she is going to make it her mission to make the “government work more effectively and more efficiently for Rhode Island residents.”

“And while I know the public doesn’t always get through I do want to credit the Division of Taxation because they’re doing hard work,” she said.

According to new data we just obtained, this tax season the division has processed about 394,000 refunds. With the 45,000 that are outstanding, about 25,000 are suspected of fraud.

“We’re at 88% of where we expect to be by the end of the year,” Savage said. “We are working hard. We dedicated resources, but the bottom line is we need to be careful and protect Rhode Island taxpayers.”

Serpa said she hopes these types of delays don’t happen again in the future.

“I want to be assured that this year is the exception and doesn’t become the rule,” she said.

As we’ve reported, the division is blaming most tax delays on a new computer system with heightened fraud screening.

The Division of Taxation employs 225 people and 23 work in the personal income tax section.

Savage now says the target date for all of the refunds to be issued is mid-July.

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