Tips for faster tax refunds
The West Virginia State Tax Department has made strides in recent years to quickly process taxpayers’ personal income tax returns. However, there are several aspects of the annual tax filing season that causes some taxpayers to wait weeks for their payments to be processed or their refunds to be issued. I encourage all taxpayers to take the following steps which will help the State Tax Department improve customer service this season.
By law, employers must issue employees’ W-2s by January 31 each year. Upon receiving a W-2 and other necessary documentation, I encourage taxpayers to file a personal income tax return as soon as possible.
Last year those taxpayers who filed error-free returns in early February had their returns processed in an average of 10 days. This is due to the low volume of filings at that time. In contrast, the State Tax Department received approximately 85,000 paper returns postmarked April 15 —this is 27% of all personal income tax returns for the year. The heavy volume received on April 15 each year negatively contributes to the longer processing time.
Always double check your return for accuracy. Returns filed with errors can significantly slow the tax return processing time and cause a delay for weeks. This will be the third year the State Tax Department has used a state-of-the-art computer system for personal income tax return filings. However, computers cannot replace human interaction when errors are detected. Errors may not be mathematical but may be simple oversights like forgetting to sign the return, missing a digit in a direct deposit bank routing number or using the wrong tax form.
Before you put pen to paper, consider electronic filing or e-filing. Did you know 60% of West Virginia Personal Income Tax returns are e-filed? It is the most accurate way to file with error rates considerably less than paper which translates into faster processing and a faster refund in your hand. For some taxpayers, e-filing is free.
By e-filing, refunds can be directly deposited into your bank account in as little as 10 working days. Correct paper returns can take up to seven weeks before a taxpayer receives a refund check. If you e-file and submit a payment by check, do not send another paper return with your check as this causes confusion and will delay your return from being processed in a timely fashion.
Christopher G. Morris
West Virginia Tax Commissioner