Louisiana residents still waiting for income tax refunds

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A huge talker on social media Wednesday was income tax refunds.  Louisiana residents say they are still waiting for their money or just some answers. The Louisiana Department of Revenue says identity theft is part of the hold-up.

"In 2011, there were nationally 1.1 million cases of identity theft tax fraud that were tracked by the IRS," said Byron Henderson with the Louisiana Department of Revenue.

Henderson says this year, the state is attempting to cut down on fraud by using a new processing system. He says it carefully examines tax payer forms to make sure the person filing is not using someone else's identity. Henderson says this adds about a two week delay on getting back refunds out to tax payers, but some people say it's been much longer.

"I just want some answers because me and my clients are getting kind of upset, kind of hot because this it's some money we worked for," said Tori Cosey.

Cosey filed her own, and several friends and family member's taxes this in January. The State Department of Revenue's website just keeps telling her that her return has been received, but not processed. While she understands the state is taking their time to protect tax payers, she's says they don't waste time taking care of their money.

"They have federal offsets for income taxes that were owed, but they didn't hesitate taking those funds from one of my clients," said Cosey. "So why is it taking so long to receive our payments?"

Meantime, Henderson says this new system has worked exactly as they expected. He says they started distributing refunds at the end of February.

"Since then, we've actually gotten 157,000 of them out the door in amounts of about $71 million...with an average, per refund, of about $450. So they're moving out at very rapid pace now, and they will continue to do so," said Henderson.

For those of you who have not filed your income taxes yet, the department suggests filing electronically because it's supposed to be much faster. We're told if you send your form through the mail it could take 12 to 16 weeks to be processed.

Also something to remember, this year there are three different ways you can get your income tax return---on the debit card, through direct deposit, or by check.

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