State auditors look into slow income tax checks, returns - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

State auditors look into slow income tax checks, returns

June 18, 2007

Albany--  State auditors are investigating why it may have taken longer for you to receive a tax refund this year.

The Department of Revenue has received complaints that the state was extra slow when it came to processing income tax checks and returns for 2006. Some lawmakers believe Governor Sonny Perdue is behind the delay. It all revolves around a now dead tax rebate for property owners.

The IRS may have been swift with tax refunds and payments this year but some say the state of Georgia had a big delay.

"We have never had this kind of activity to take place in the state of Georgia before," said Rep. Windred Dukes.

Georgia residents had a longer wait at the mailbox. Some lawmakers believe the delay was deliberate. The speculation involves a 142-million dollar property tax break that Governor Perdue vetoed earlier this year.

"I thought his veto was tragic. It was tragic for the people of the state of Georgia," said  Dukes. There are accusations that the Perdue administration may have delayed the cashing of income tax checks to show the state had no way of affording the tax break.

State House Representative Winfred Dukes isn't pointing fingers just yet but he is concerned.

"It is indeed possible but the most important thing is that we have to ask the question. The question has to be asked," said Dukes.

Could the state government have intentionally delayed the process?

"I'm convinced that the governor and everybody else wants to make sure that any kind of revenue that comes into the state is deposited in a timely and efficient manner," said Rep. Ed Rynders.

State House Representative Ed Rynders agrees that the accusations should be looked into.  "With an auditor looking into this matter we'll be able to find out if there was something that didn't pass the smell test by having the large revenue increase in May," said Rynders.

But he says it's too early to jump the gun. "I think the fair thing to do is to give the benefit of the doubt," said Rynders.

Dukes says if the accusations prove to be true, this won't be the end of the issue. "In a free and open society, legislators and the people of the state have to question their leaders to make sure we don't enter into a process of tyranny," said Dukes.

Questions still linger about the delay and many hope to have those questions answered soon.

In May, just weeks after the tax break veto, there was a nearly 50 percent increase in income tax collections. Revenue Commissioner Burt Graham says the delay may be due to a a large number of taxpayers who filed at the last minute.

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