The Illinois Department of Revenue has issued a press release announcing that the Department does not anticipate releasing individual tax refunds for the
2016 tax filing season until after March 1, 2016. This decision is based on the positive impact last year's fraud prevention measures had in combating
tax return fraud and identity theft, which has become a major problem in recent years.
According to Connie Beard, the Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue, "By delaying tax refunds by just a few weeks, we'll be able to better detect attempts at identity theft and ensure taxpayer refunds do not fall needlessly into the hands of criminals." The Department plans on spending more time examining tax returns in order to ensure refunds are issued to the proper taxpayers.
The Department still recommends that taxpayers electronically file tax returns and request direct deposit to ensure the quickest delivery of their refunds. Taxpayers electronically filing prior to March 1, 2016, will likely see their refunds two to three weeks after March 1. For taxpayers filing after March 1, 2016, assuming the return is error-free, refund can be expected within two to three weeks post-filing.
While many Illinois residents might believe that the state is delaying refunds due to budgetary constraints, tax refunds are not subject to budgetary appropriation by the Illinois General Assembly and, therefore, are not impacted by the current budget crisis.
Illinois is the first state to make such an announcement, but it will likely not be the last. Taxing authorities nationwide continue to struggle with identity theft prevention. It is likely this issue will continue to slow the processing of returns and refunds by the IRS and many states moving forward.
For the most up to date information for the 2016 Illinois tax filing season, visit the Illinois Department of Revenue's website at: http://tax.illinois.gov.