Taxes may be one thing not everyone understands completely, but news of a delayed refund has left many wondering what is exactly going on.
Early this year, the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) announced that tax refunds would have a delayed release until the two to three weeks after March 1.
Dr. Mark Williams in Olivet’s school of business briefly explained in an email interview what these tax refunds are: “In most cases, a tax refund is simply the return of extra amounts that have been withheld from your paycheck during the year.”
Senior accounting major Alyssa Faulks added that “once the taxpayer files a tax return, [they] can claim the tax refund, and have it sent via check, or have it deposited directly to [their] checking account.”
With many taxpayers aware of money hopefully coming their way over the next few weeks, there is interest in shedding more light on why the returns took so long.
And the number one frequently answered question on tax.illinois.gov addresses just that.
In light of security issues in previous years, the IDOR has added additional steps to make the filing process more secure. Despite investigation to elaborate on these changing steps, it does not do much good to try and learn more about these new practices. This is a positive sign, because if anyone could discover how the security was improved, those with ill-intent could easily do the same.
Time has naturally been added to the reviewing process. For normal taxpayers, there is not much to be done in the meantime. Most literature on the topic is also taking the news opportunity to urge taxpayers to steer away from paper forms to online submission.
Williams listed a few reasons why this would be suggested. For one, “You receive acknowledgement that the tax authority has received your return.” This bypasses the possible misplacement or damage of a fragile paper form. Also, “filing electronically reduces the chance for processing errors.” From electronic submission, the only error could be the submitter’s as opposed to any employee mistyping an important number or word. Finally, he in essence said it is faster. “If an IL return is filed after March 1, a refund will be received sooner if the return is e-filed as opposed to paper filed.”
There is still danger for fraud, but new methods will ideally make this
danger much less prevalent. Faulks answered in response to this topic, “Online filing is becoming more secure. By filing online, taxpayers will receive their refund more quickly.” With this said, there is always opportunity to encourage students and taxpayers alike to be safe with personal information like social security numbers when filling out legal documents.
Be safe, be cautious and fill out forms correctly is basic advice echoed by articles and the IDOR. Returns will hopefully be safer after this change, and those filed before March 1 should be reaching their owners within two weeks of that date.
—Heather Halverson, Copy Editor