“Delays in DC Tax Refunds”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Phil

“Dear PoPville,

I just wanted to let you know about a situation I discovered today when I was finally able to speak with a live person in the DC Taxpayer Service Center.

Our tax preparer filed our US federal and DC local tax returns electronically on 27 March 2015.
We were owed refunds from both US and DC. The fed IRS credited our account an amazing five business days later on 3 April.

We still haven’t received the DC tax refund as of today. When we would go online at the
DC income tax return status website, we to the same reply for a month:

“Your return has been received and your refund is being processed. Please check back in a few days.”

Every time I called the contact number, the wait was over 15 minutes. Finally today i did wait, and the nice and knowledgeable woman I spoke with quickly came back with an answer.

As I had no W2 form and my spouse did and the return was filed under my Social Security Number, the customer service representative said that the District was unable to confirm that my spouse had had withheld any DC taxes. This in spite of our return having both our SSNs on it!. She said DC has an old 1999 tracking system that is unable to track withholding like that and that the primary taxpayer on a joint DC return must have a W2 showing DC tax withheld.

When I asked her what would have happened if I had not finally got through by phone, she said the return would have just been held in “pending.” DC does not notify the taxpayer that anything is wrong or missing in a case like this.

She asked me to fax or email her a copy of my spouse’s W2 which she would add to the file so the return can be processed and the refund issued. I emailed the copy of the W2 minutes after speaking with her.

Now to see if that actually happens! And how long that takes.

So if anyone is waiting for a while for a refund. Call the Taxpayer Service Number on their website.”

40 Comment

  • A very similar thing happened to me this year too. I filed electronically and my employer did not send any W2 info to DC for any of our employees, so according to DC they had no verification that any funds were withheld. After emailing a copy of my W2 to the very helpful Service Center employee (that I had to wait 30 minutes to actually get on the line), I had my refund in a few days. I got the same explanation that had I not called, DC would have made no attempt to contact me or H&R Block and the funds would have continued to show as pending.

  • I agree. Please do call them. I got my DC refund back quicker than the Federal.

  • it is amazing that this happened, and yet I randomly received a bill from the DC Tax Office in July 2013 saying “you never paid your taxes in 2009, you owe X amount plus interest.” I did not move to DC until 2010…so I had to then prove that I was not a DC resident in 2009 to avoid this insanity!

    • The same thing happened to me! They reached out earlier this year to say I hadn’t paid 2012. Well, yes, I moved here in 2013. Still fighting that one…

      • Wow, I’m glad to know I’m not alone – although I’m sorry this happened to you! In the end, I found that sending the pdf version of that year’s tax return is proof that I didn’t live in DC that year., showing that I paid taxes in another state instead.

  • Same thing happened to us! When I called, they said our refund had a hold b/c they need to verify our income. Not sure how they did that b/c they never ended up asking for additional info (and we finally got our refund this week after two months), but if we had not called, it would never have been dealt with. Seems like a huge scam to me. They probably count on people not following up and then do not ever pay their refunds. It’s total BS.

  • Ours were filed on April 3 and I have checked the status several times. I held on Monday for over 15 minutes and was told it was under review. But I wasn’t given any other details. I wonder if I should call again…

  • Previous poster here. Tip for those trying to call & get through. Call first thing in the morning when they open at 8:15am. I’ve never had to wait more than five minutes.

  • I filed my taxes in February, and I was wondering why I never got my DC tax refund.

    • +1 – I’ve just been waiting and thought that calling would be useless. I’m definitely going to give them a call now!

      • well I actually called, and the automated message told me that my refund was being processed. I never looked into it any further. I’m glad I saw this.

  • We had an extended wait to get our DC return back this year. Usually it is quick. I’m not sure why, but once we finally got through to the service employee a few days ago, they indicated it would be processed shortly (no explanation for the delay). We still haven’t gotten it yet though…

  • justinbc

    Don’t feel bad, I’ve been waiting since February. (and yes, I’ve spoken to them about it several times)

  • I think the WaPost should do an article on this and bring attention to what’s going on. It seems like it’s happening to a lot of people and the DC gov’t is getting away with it. Making taxpayers call and be on hold for extended periods of time just to get info on refunds that were properly filed is crazy.

    • The Post is a joke on local issues. Has been for ages.

    • I’ve had mine kicked back a couple times in previous years; each time, I went to their office with W-2s et al, ,dealt with a live person and things were worked out quickly. I wouldn’t bother with trying to reach someone by phone. This sort of thing is not a “phone” matter.

  • gotryit

    You got through by phone?!? In less than 45 minutes! And you weren’t just transferred to a full voicemail box! That’s a miracle right there.
    I recommend going in person if you can afford the time. Very short wait, and the people are incredibly professional.

  • Filed in Feb, still haven’t received refund. Nice to know I’m not the only one…

  • Sounds like dc treasury wants to make as much as possible (on interest) until dc residents ask for their refunds.

  • Well, they were quick to take money out of my account this tax season, so there are people definitely working there:)

  • We filed ours late and already have our check!

  • novadancer

    I efiled our return on a Sunday and it was in our bank account on Tuesday – TWO days later (early April too so heavy volume)!! WAY faster than the fed’s 21 day usual processing time (I’m a CPA so get the notices for my clients on processing times). I would definitely call to see what the issue is.

    I would also double check the efile bank & routing numbers. For my program I have to manually key that for both returns.

  • maxwell smart

    Interesting. I filed on April 12 and got my refund 4 days later.

  • a tax preparer filed my family’s dc taxes on april 14th or 15th, and we got our refund last week.

  • Not sure why our experience is so different, but I filed on April 15th (by mail) and got my refund within two weeks.

  • Yup, this is a total crock! I filed over 3 weeks ago, Fed and DC. Fed return deposited in a week. DC web site says I am approved and to check back in a couple days if there is not action.

    After reading this post, called Office of Tax and Revenue – got a human in under 15 min, amazing!!

    In speaking with an employee in the office, whom was very helpful, she verified my account.

    It seems even though the website says your refund is coming, its not true, at least in my case. She said they still need my Federal 1040 A and E to process my return. Again, the web site said I was processed, approved and just waiting the deposit.

    BIG issue. Office of Tax needs more information before they can process, but the web site says its processed and just waiting for deposit????? There is some serious miscommunication here.

    If I did not call I would have no idea they wanted additional information. This sounds super fishy to me that the system says all good and the people verifying need more data and don’t even bother to communicate with the people they need data from. I mean, in the long run, why would they care. Its your money they are holding hostage, not their own.

    Someone reported the WashPost should pick this up, give it to the local news agencies instead. They love to report stories of the average Joe who pays his taxes and is being taken advantage by the “big city” holding his money hostage to earn extra interest! haha

  • Had same issue – we filed electronically in February. Called last week, and apparently they couldn’t verify my husband’s W2 – despite the Feds having no problem. Had been sitting in “pending” purgatory for nearly 3 months. Emailed in a copy of his W2 – still waiting on my refund. Woman (who was super-helpful) I spoke with said that if I hadn’t called, the District would not have notified me in any way because of a “glitch” they’re having this year. Insanity. Such a local crap show yet again.

  • My teenage daughter filed in February (her first time) and still hasn’t gotten her refund (of less than $200). The site gives the same BS message the OP got. Guess she’ll have to go in person, as she’s had no luck with the phone number. Typical stellar DC government service.

  • clevelanddave

    What dumb shit invented a system where tax refunds are delayed forever and no notification is given to taxpayers who have incomplete forms? It is simply incompressible, and more frightening, this has been going on for years. I hope someone files suit against the city and that the city has to retroactively inform all those who did not get refunds due to the lack of notification of errors, and provide those refunds once the errors are corrected, with interest. Just incredible.

  • I got a letter saying they were withholding my tax refund for taxes owed from 2013, even though I had gone through an extensive and frustrating process of getting those 2013 taxes waived because they were sending all notices to the wrong suite number. OTR still haven’t corrected the mailing address error – fortunately my mailman catches the wrong address sometimes and delivers to me – the only reason I even found out that my refund is being withheld.

  • notlawd

    Same thing happened to me. I emailed the W2s on April 21, but still have not gotten my refund or an email confirmation that they were received. I am going to call back in the morning. Ridiculous but not surprising. I have never had this problem in the past.

  • Had mine filed in mid-February by my tax person. I know he does things right. Yes, they held mine up b/c their system couldn’t verify my W-2 with my joint married filing. Absolute garbage. I went down to the office, then emailed the correct docs in PDF to the email they gave me (attn: Ms. so-and-so). Nothing for 3 weeks, so I forwarded the exact same email again to Ms. so-and-so. Finally got the return about 10 days later. It’s garbage, and I’m lucky that I have free time. I feel so bad for people who have to take work leave to go to the Tax Office.

  • My husband and I filed our joint return on January 21, 2015. We are owed a DC refund but still have not received it. I have called twice, provided the requested documents, and was told the second time that it was “pending” with a reviewer and that given his approval, we should receive the refund in 7 to 10 days. That was last week, so I’m waiting with baited breath! There is nothing complicated about our return in the least bit. Guess my next step would be to actually go down there and talk to someone in person.

  • Been waiting since Feb 2015 also. Tired of recordings, delays etc..

  • Just got off the phone with a nice lady at the tax office. They received my return on April 8 and fed refund was direct deposited on 4/15, but DC went into limbo. First they sent a letter asking to confirm my address and prove I lived where I live by sending a utility bill, the letter, and a w2. I did all that and heard nothing for 5 weeks. Pending pending pending . Now, This morning (after 30 min hold time) she told me it has been passed on to a supervisor ( where, again, it’s just sitting). She said once you prove who you are this won’t happen again, but she saw from my records that I went through this in 2012 as well — when I had to bring “proof” from the social security office. Hard to believe a copy of my comcast bill will authenticate me! I should add that I’ve lived at the same address and worked at the same job ( where dc takes tax tribute every two weeks) for several decades , so I’m not exactly new in town. Something crazy is going on there. I asked if it was because I used Turbo tax and she just laughed and ( in guessing) rolled her eyes. They probably just should have asked for paper returns rather than accept e-filed ones that they then flag and delay.

    My suggestion is, if your return is lost in spaaaace, give them a call. She said it would take another 10 days or so ( for the supervisor to approve it?) but at least I’ve confirmed that they received the documentation I sent. Supposedly this will “never happen again” but I have my doubts. Seems like a $ float gimmick … but I suppose it’s possible they’re doing an internal audit and we were just caught up in the “processing.” Either way, very inconvenient…

    If this is happening to you, don’t just let it go on for months w/o pursuing it. They are not being proactive and will not necessarily notify you or confirm statues of your return accurately, good luck!!! Will update when/if the refund arrives!

  • still waiting…

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