Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Direct debit issue

Taxpayers who electronically file their Rhode Island personal income tax returns, and who have a balance due on April 15, have the option to pay that balance by arranging for a direct debit from their bank account.

Late last week, as a result of a computer issue, the direct debit was mistakenly made twice for a small number of those taxpayers. In other words, in some cases, they were charged twice. The problem arose after last week's filing deadline.

The Division of Taxation receives and processes more than 600,000 personal income tax returns each year. Of that total, approximately 267 taxpayers may have been affected by the direct debit issue, or about 0.0445 percent of the total.

“Although only a relatively small number of taxpayers are involved, each one of them is important to us -- and we want to make sure that their situation is resolved as quickly as possible,” Tax Administrator David M. Sullivan said.

“The Division of Taxation is aware of this problem and is in the process of resolving it and individually notifying every single taxpayer involved,” Sullivan said. “We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused those taxpayers and we are working with them to make sure they are made whole -- including any overdraft or other such charges and fees,” Sullivan added.

The Division of Taxation is in the process of issuing refunds to the affected taxpayers – either through a direct deposit or a refund check by mail within the next five to seven business days. 

The letter that the Division of Taxation is in the process of mailing to each affected taxpayer explains what happened, how the Division is resolving the matter, and what steps affected taxpayers can take -- including contact information. The letter also explains how each affected taxpayer can file a claim, using a specified form, for reimbursement related to overdraft fees, “bounced check” fees -- from financial institutions, retailers, and others -- and other such charges. (However, affected taxpayers do not have to take any additional steps regarding refunds; refunds will be issued automatically.)

The total amount of tax that the affected taxpayers planned to pay via direct debit was approximately $450,000. Of that, one taxpayer owed $290,000.

Editor's Note: This post was updated at 12:22 p.m. ET on April 22, 2015