Online filing problems delay processing of refund checks

New software upgrade causes backlog of processing

Published  5:43 PM HST Mar 04, 2013
HONOLULU -

Mel McAulton files his federal and state taxes electronically at the same time every year, and expects his refund check at about the same time, too.

This year, he didn't hear anything about his refund, so he called the state tax office.

He didn't like the answer.

His returns weren't in the system.

"I am way past frustrated," said Mel McAulton who spent several days last week trying to understand what happened.

Turns out the state tax office was upgrading its computer software to sync up with the federal government.

The Internal Revenue Service rolled out its system at the end of January.

The state offered this explanation as to why it couldn’t find McAulton’s returns in its data base.

"It might have been rejected because our system was not ready to accept it yet. We didn’t open ours up until February," said Tax Spokeswoman Mallory Fujitani.

The state told McAulton he would have to refile.

"They never told anyone they were upgrading their program," complained McAulton.

He was banking on the refund to pay some of his bills.

He thinks other taxpayers might have had similar problems.

"There may be a lot more and a lot of them may not even know what has happened,” said McAulton.

The state is asking taxpayers to be patient while it gets the bugs out of the system.

Fujitani said 140,000 returns are stuck in a cue waiting to be processed.

"We process the files in small batches, a couple hundred at a time, and if that works out and we don’t see any major glitches, then we do a slightly larger batch. If everything looks okay, then we let everything run through the system," said Fujitani.

That should happen by next week when larger batches of 40,000 and 60,000  are processed.

Fujitani said it normally takes six to eight weeks to process returns.

So while the backlog may be tackled next week, checks still have to get cut, so taxpayers may have to wait a couple of weeks before everything gets sorted out.

Fujitani  said the computer hiccup did not affect paper filings.

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