Just over 2,000 Louisianans still owe accidentally issued tax refunds; over $2 million collected

Just over 2,000 Louisianans still owe accidentally issued tax refunds; over $2 million collected
About 2,164 Louisianans still need to return tax refund money. That collectively totals to about $594,908 that needs to be returned (Source: Unsplash.com)

(WAFB) - About 2,164 Louisianans still need to return tax refund money. That collectively totals to about $594,908 that needs to be returned.

Those individuals are being issued bills by the Louisiana Department of Revenue and may be targeted by its collection efforts.

Collections efforts will not include removing the owed amount from any COVID-19 economic impact payments.

In March of 2019, 66,780 individual income tax refunds totaling $26.9 million were unintentionally refunded to taxpayers twice.

LDR and Louisiana’s Division of Administration – Office of Technology Services (OTS) sparred over which agency was at fault over the incident when responding to a report released by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA).

The LLA report identified an unprecedented computer issue may have led to the creation of duplicate direct deposit files. Neither personnel from LDR or OTS were aware the specific issue was possible, LLA found.

OTS staff did not recognize the duplication and released files to the bank. LDR was unaware of the duplicate files until taxpayers and financial institutions began reporting duplicate direct deposits, the report states.

The LLA report states neither agency had effective controls in place to prevent duplicate files or to provide another layer of review before the files were released.

However, LDR Secretary Kimberly Robinson objected to the agency having any role in the error.

In a response to LLA’s report, Robinson wrote, "the process of monitoring and releasing the direct deposit files in question was the sole responsibility of the Division of Administration – Office of Technology Services” and that “LDR did not have a role in approving the direct deposit files for release to the bank.”

OTS Chief Information Officer Richard Howze argued against that assertion.

In a response letter, Howze stated, "while OTS acknowledges their part in the duplicate tax refunds having been generated, this responsibility was shared with LDR.”

Both agencies have since established new procedures to prevent the error from happening again.

About $26,281,701 was returned by May 21, 2020, LDR officials said. That amounts to about 97% of refunds, officials said.

Taxpayers who need to repay duplicate refunds can submit payments electronically through the LDR website or by paper check.

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