State tax refund delays expected to be minimal this year

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Last year the Alabama Department of Revenue implemented a system to prevent tax fraud, and it worked. The state prevented $20 million from being issued on fraudulent returns.  But in their efforts, they also caused a massive backlog.

"We had too many filters in place and were getting too many false positives," said Julie Magee, State Revenue Commissioner.

This year the process is far more efficient, and demands far fewer manual reviews.  But the state has run into some unexpected delays, thanks to a Turbo Tax data breach in 2014.

"We've now been forced to do all of the Turbo Tax filed returns, add those to the regular suspicious returns we filter out," said Magee. "So we're putting our new process through greater tests than we expected to."

So far 1.3 million returns have been filed, and close to 40,000 of them have been flagged as "suspicious." But still, the process for determining the real threats among those is faster than ever.

Magee says the additional reviews on a legitimate tax form will only delay the refund by about a week.

The revenue commissioner also credits this year's newly implemented Taxpayer Identity Protection program for expediting the process. The agency sent out 20,000 questionnaires asking taxpayers to confirm their identity online or over the phone.

"People are responding really well, going online or calling and completing the questionnaire we're asking them to do so we can finishing the processing of their return."

Barring any issues with your form - like a missing signature or incorrect information - you should expect your return within six to eight weeks.

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