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ONLY ON 3: The "Tax Man" on why your refund is late

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RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - All of us have to file taxes. Some of us get refunds, but many of us haven't yet from the state of North Carolina. What gives?

The North Carolina Department of Revenue says the state has a cash flow problem and it's taking a little extra time to make sure none of the refund checks bounce, but if you need your check sooner than later the easiest way to get it might be by filing online.

Jeff Maples knew our Joe Mauceri was going to Raleigh this week to quiz the Tax Man and wrote him this e-mail:

"I thought I did a good job by being one of the first to file my tax return on January 25. I am supposed to receive a refund of $887. I still haven't received my refund."

Jeff isn't alone.

North Carolina doesn't have enough money to pay him back, and refunds are late now for the second consecutive year. Bottom line, there's no telling when you'll get it.

"To process a return it varies whether it's electronic or paper, whether it's complex or simple," State Secretary of Revenue Kenneth Lay said. "There are a lot variables that go into it, so there isn't a specific timeframe."

Last year the state caught up on returns by May 13 and expects to catch up around the same time again this year. However, Lay said sometimes the delay is caused because of mistakes like wrong addresses and social security numbers, and most of all poor math. But he said those errors are ten times less likely to happen when you file online.

"That's the very best way to file," Lay said. "It's much more efficient, and it's much more effective."

But Elise Brock says she did that and she's still waiting. In an e-mail she wrote, "My taxes were filed electronically through vita at my local credit union four weeks ago. What is the average turn around time for refunds? Creditors don't care that I'm unemployed, and I could really use that money."

"We understand there's a lot of pain out there in the economy," Lay told WWAY. "And we're trying to do everything we can to get everybody's return to them just as quickly as we can."

Even though it's taking a little longer to send out the checks, Lay said he expects everyone to have their refund by May 31. If they don't, the state has to pay a five-percent interest charge.

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