MONEY

Cash-Strapped States Leave Taxpayers Empty-Handed

Alas, I’m not getting a refund on my state taxes this year. But my fellow New Yorkers who are expecting money back should be prepared to wait for it: Governor David Paterson announced Wednesday that some checks may be delayed in light of the state’s fiscal crisis.

The state’s fiscal year ends April 1, right in the middle of the filing season. And for 2010, New York reduced the cap on how much it can pay before that date — from $1.75 billion to $1.25 billion — in order to ease its cash flow problems, explains Matt Anderson, spokesman for the New York State Division of the Budget.

The state is expecting to hit that new lower cap this Friday. So some taxpayers who’ve filed already — and all of those planning to file between now and April 1 — can expect to wait six weeks for their checks in place of the usual three- to four-week delay. People who file after April 1 are likely to get their checks within the normal schedule, says Anderson. (Diligent early-bird filers forced to wait longer for refunds than late-filing procrastinators will no doubt be unhappy.) The state has to pay all of its refunds by June 1 — which Anderson says it will — or taxpayers waiting for their checks will start earning interest.

The Empire State joins the likes of Hawaii and North Carolina in postponing payments for budgetary reasons. Most states’ fiscal years end in July, meaning the delay could be longer in these other locations. Oklahoma has said payment could be slowed by virtue of job cuts that left fewer people to process such checks.

Last year Californians had to wait, but that cash-strapped state is paying on time this year, according to reports.

What have you heard about your state? And, if you have to wait, how do you feel about it?

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