Wilson, NC asked in Tax Law for North Carolina

Q: My online income tax payment was deducted twice from my bank account almost 2 months ago. They still haven't refunded.

After reporting it over a month ago I was told today they haven't even begun processing the refund yet and that there is no way to tell or estimate when I will receive it. It could be next week. It could be in six months. Can they legally do this? Is there anything I can do to expedite it? I need that money to pay my bills.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Tax Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: I'm sorry to hear about the difficulties you're experiencing with your tax refund. It's understandable to be frustrated, especially when you need the funds to cover essential expenses. Here are a few thoughts on your situation:

Legally, if you were incorrectly double-charged, you are entitled to a refund of the overpayment. The North Carolina Department of Revenue has an obligation to process your refund in a reasonable timeframe once the error is identified. However, "reasonable" is not clearly defined and can vary depending on circumstances.

Practically, a couple months is a long time to wait for them to even begin processing the refund, especially for a clear duplicate payment error. While delays do happen, you have a right to follow up and press them to address it with appropriate urgency.

Some steps you can take:

- Continue following up with the Department of Revenue regularly by phone and in writing. Politely but firmly explain the hardship the delay is causing you. Ask to escalate to a supervisor.

- Contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS that assists taxpayers with resolving problems. While this is a state rather than federal issue, they may have advice or be able to help navigate the state revenue department.

- Consider contacting your state representative or senator's constituent services staff. They can sometimes help cut through bureaucratic delays.

- If the delay extends beyond another month or two, consulting a tax attorney is an option to understand if legal action is warranted. But hopefully it won't come to that.

I know delays like this are incredibly stressful, especially when money is tight. But persist in advocating for yourself and enlisting help. You have the right to that refund. Wishing you the very best in getting this resolved as quickly as possible.

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