CHICAGO (CBS) — After a three-month delay due to the coronavirus, Tax Day has arrived. Illinois and the federal government both extended the deadline to file income tax returns until July 15 to give taxpayers more time during the pandemic.

The Morning Insiders have learned tens of thousands of Illinois taxpayers who submitted returns in the earlier months still haven’t received their refunds. CBS 2’s Lauren Victory looks into the delay.

Money doesn’t grow on trees and it’s certainly, not flowing for many during the pandemic.

“I’ve had to take a cut in pay at work. So every little bit helps … but this is kind of ridiculous,” said an anonymous state contractor still waiting for his income tax refund from the state of Illinois.

He submitted his return on March 17.

“Then I got a partial refund May 15th. So, almost two months later, and then the state sent me a letter saying that they didn’t have any documentation of my deductions,” he said.

He remedied that hiccup quickly.

“They said they have now until October 9th to decide whether or not they need more documentation,” he said.

That means potentially three more months in limbo.

“It’s a car payment. So I mean, I’m missing out on a car payment’s worth of refund,” he said.

He’s not the only one waiting.

Lauren Victory’s state tax refund is also still missing, almost three months after filing.

CBS 2 asked the Illinois Department of Revenue how many other refunds are still owed, and how long will people who filed before the July 15th deadline have to wait?

The state didn’t provide an official timeline, but did say people waiting a while should contact IDOR

At last check, 90,000 refund requests are pending an internal review.

COVID-19 definitely muddied operations, but delays were expected even before the virus.

Tax filing website 1040.com explained what’s happening across the U.S.: states are fighting a surge in tax refund fraud.

“It’s becoming the new normal, since cash-strapped states can’t afford to send millions of dollars to fraudsters,” their video states.

Even so, IDOR already has issued 3.3 million refunds this year.

Apparently, some just take longer than others.

“If roles were reversed, if I owed the state this much money, they would charge me interest,” the anonymous contractor said.

Interest for the taxpayer begins to accrue 90 days after a return is filed with the department, according to IDOR.

CBS 2 asked specifically, but wasn’t told how COVID-19 impacted the processing of Illinois taxes.

“Despite the impact of COVID-19, the Department of Revenue continued to process and issue refunds in a timely manner. As of Monday, the department has issued 3.3 million refunds totaling $1.5 billion dollars to taxpayers. In the runup to the tax deadline, we currently have approximately 90,000 refund requests pending internal review. Some returns require more information or verification to complete our review so taxpayers should be alert for correspondence from the department.

For those who have not yet filed, the fastest way to get a refund is to file electronically and request direct deposit. Last year, 88% of taxpayers filed electronically.

Taxpayers can check on the status of their refund by using the “Where’s My Refund” tool on our website (specifically at mytax.illinois.gov). Our goal has always been to process returns within a month of receiving them. If any taxpayer is experiencing a delay longer than that, it most likely means there is an issue with the return and we invite them to contact us directly. Interest begins accruing 90 days after a return is filed with the department.”

 

Lauren Victory