Dear PoPville – DC Individual Tax Refund problems

Individual Tax Refund problems
Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

“Dear PoPville,

Thought I would pass along an issue I had with my DC tax refund. I have lived in DC over 13 years, e-filed as long as that option was available and never had a problem… until this year. I had almost forgotten about it, but when I rembered recently I checked the DC Taxpayer Refund status webpage.

It accurately told me when my efile return was received and said my refund was being processed, check back in a few days. After falling for that line for many, many days I called the tax office. Despite being warned by the recording of extensive waits and after trying to call in several different days of the week, I eventually made it through (expect an hour or more on hold.) I was informed that my return could not be processed until I faxed them copies of my W-2. So, my return was not being processed anymore (as the website noted) it was just sitting. I used to be a tax accountant and I can tell you that anytime there is a deficiency in your return or missing information the relevant taxing authority should contact you in writing. I requested a written notice and they refused (another tax faux pas.) It is apparently their policy NOT to send out notices for missing W2’s and only provide that information if you call and ask for it. After much haranguing I eventually got the name of the person responsible for this process… Joseph Parran is the Director of Return Processing Administration with the Office of Tax Revenue.

Moral of the story… if you haven’t received your tax refund DON’T believe the Taxpayer Refund status website. CALL the District Office of Tax and Revenue and don’t give up and until you speak with someone. There’s no telling how many 1000’s of dollars of refund money the District is just sitting on until you ask for it. If anyone else has a tax refund problem I suggest contacting Joseph and request an improvement to their ‘policy’.”

16 Comment

  • Thanks for your post – I’m still waiting for my refund, as well, so I guess I will have to deal with the pain of sitting on-hold, as well.

    Clearly the services in this city generally suck. But I am wondering if they suck more than they did when Fenty was in office. Perhaps it’s an illusion, but it seemed, based on my anecdotal experience, that services (e.g. DPW, DCRA, Rec and Parks) were better or getting better back then.

    • Everything was better under Fenty when compared to Gray. I am eagerly awaiting for him to be brought up on criminal charges.

    • Office of Tax and Revenue is under the CFO, which is 100% independent of the Mayor’s control. Gandhi has been CFO since the Williams administration.

  • I’ve never heard a story related to the DC Tax Office that wasn’t a total nightmare.

  • I faced a similar problem with my tax refund this year. As a result, I adjustied my withholdings going forward so that instead of the District owing me a refund next year, I will owe the city a very small amount.

  • I had the extact same problem! It took several hours and phones to finally get all the information I needed to correct my tax return and get my refund processed…3 solid months!! Its insane!

  • I had problems when I filed with paper (during the Fenty administration). Two years running, they claimed I hadn’t filed all of the right paper work (probably the W-2, I don’t recall). I went to the tax office and both times it was adjudicated in minutes. Their filing system apparently did this all the time with paper copies. I then switched to e-filing. So–yes they screwed-up, but no horror story. And no problems with e-filing.

  • CPA here .. DC royally messed up this year. They can’t figure out where the error is, however it is internal on their side. They can’t verify if anything was filed, even though it was. Roughly 50% of refunds were not issued, and are still pending. You have to keep escalating your phone call until you get a hold of a supervisor in the know about the issue.

  • I had a slightly different twist on this. This year I owed a small amount and sent a check at the end of February which the city cashed on March 4th. In June I got a notice saying that I hadn’t paid and had 10 days to pay up or else. So I called the tax office, and I can confirm that you will be on hold for an hour if you do. Once I got to speak to someone, who was very nice I must say, she told me to send in a copy of my cancelled check, which I did, and within about 10 days I got a notice that everything was now in order. But I agree, something must have been messed up this year since I have never had a problem before.

  • Don’t think that owing the city will keep them from abusing their power. I work for myself and owed them for last year. Paid ahead of time and got a letter in June stating that if I didn’t pay them, I would owe hundreds of dollars in penalties. Thankfully it was easy enough to prove they had already cashed the check I had written, but it doesn’t make them any less corrupt.

  • clevelanddave

    If 50 percent of the people owed refunds haven’t received them by July, someone should instigate a class action suit to sue the city for back interest… and the Post should do a big story about incompetence in basic services.

  • I ended up owing some money to DC for 2012 and 2011. Have thought about increasing my withholding, but this has convinced me not to.

  • Persistence. Keep your cool. Persistence. Keep your cool. Persistence, persistence, persistence.

    The original poster seems to know this, but I share this advice for any of the rest of you facing problems with the DC tax office.

    I had a situation that had my blood boiling. Every person with whom I spoke (in the general DC public) said the same thing to me which was, “oh you’re never going to see your money!” Fortunately, I followed the advice above, and I succeeded! (However, the fact that I had to go through all of that makes my blood boil).

    Here’s the short: On Day A (very early in the season this year – like early February), I electronically filed my taxes. I was due a refund of ~$1700 (which is a heck of a lot of money to me). Two days later (and completely coincidentally) I received a letter from DC Tax and Revenue inquiring as to why I filed a federal return for 2008 using a DC address but had not filed a DC return.

    To me that was a perfectly legitimate question and a perfectly legitimate inquiry. I wrote a formal letter in response and included a copy of my 2008 state return (which was filed in another state). (I moved to DC in Jan 2009. In March 2009 when I filed my taxes for 2008, I lived in DC and used my DC address).

    Two months later I received a “Notice of Offset” from DC Tax and Revenue stating that ~$1700 was being held as an offset.

    Note that the Notice of Offset did not state any reason for an offset nor did it state anything about the origin of the ~$1700. This is to say that it’s one of the most ridculous letters that likely a person ever will receive from the governent. Essentially the letter says “we’re keeping money – the origin of which we will not identify — as an offset for some reason that we also will not identify.”

    Anyway, I was able to put 2+2 together. (However, a tax attorney with whom I spoke (informally) made that point that I was making an *assumption* that the letter that I had received about my 2008 taxes and the ~$1700 that I *assumed* was my 2012 tax refund had something to do with the offset letter. However, those simply were assumptions.)

    Anyway, I wrote a formal reply to the “Notice of Offset” in which I stated that I did not owe DC any tax money and in which I included a copy of the previous letter and my response to it, etc., etc.

    I heard nothing.

    I called. I waited on hold for hours and hours.

    I spoke to a person who checked my file and was able to:
    1.) Provide me with the reason for the offset (it was related to the 2008 tax issue) (e.g., my assumption was correct).
    2.) State that they had received my letters and that my record now was clear.
    3.) State that she concurred that I did not owe DC any money.
    4.) State that my 2012 tax return was owed to me and would be released as soon as DC cut the checks.

    I was ebullient! However, speaking to the DC publc again everyone said, “yes, but do you have the money? I will not believe this until you actually have the money. And I am willing to bet that you never will receive the money.”

    I waited and waited. I called. I waited on hold for hours and hours. I kept my cool. I was persistent.

    In the end, I did get my money!!!

    Trouble is: that was a hell of a lot of effort to deal with a situation that never should have happened.

    Note: if DC had determined that I owed them money, I would not have had an issue with an offset nor with receiving a “Notice of Offset” that clearly stated the situation. However, I do have a HUGE issue with an offset occuring when DC has no evidence that any money is owed to them.

    The end.

  • It’s already been said, but yes, the online refund status form is broken. I don’t know whether it’s specific to this year or not but I also had a problem; DC didn’t notify me (in writing or any other way) and the online form just said my refund was being processed. BS.

  • I got my refund direct deposit, then a few days later a check from DC Gov for $0.03

  • I am having this same issue. Thanks for posting.

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