Georgia yanks tax refunds from taxpayers' accounts

Georgia yanks tax refunds from taxpayers' accounts

January 25th, 2011 by Andy Johns in Local Regional News

At least two local residents say they are among the thousands of Georgians who saw their income tax returns pop into their bank accounts only to disappear a few hours later.

"It actually says 'reversed' on my bank statement," said Rossville resident Tami Hess.

Hess said she saw $569 show up in her account Saturday. The transaction listed the Georgia Department of Revenue as the payee and was the correct amount listed on the return she filed.

After paying bills Sunday and Monday, she was shocked to see her account overdrawn by $260 on Monday and that the tax refund had disappeared.

Today, state officials were scrambling to research the problem.

Revenue department spokesman Reg Lansberry said the department deposited the money Thursday, but the refunds were pulled back when a mistake was identified. He said he did not know how many taxpayers were affected or how the department might be able to work with banks about overdraft fees.

Melanie Butler, administrative assistant in the office of state Revenue Commissioner Douglas MacGinnitie, told a Macon television station the problem is being fixed and the refunds should be redeposited within about a week.

Hess said she was told by a revenue phone operator that thousands of Georgians had been affected. She said she was told a few deposits in a batch of thousands were incorrect, so the state recalled the funds from the entire batch.

Rossville resident Curtis Emmett also was hit by the switch. When he first noticed the deposit and reversal Friday, he called his bank.

"I called bookkeeping and they said they'd never seen anything like that before," he said. "If I had gone out and bought a few things based on what they said was going to happen I would be in a mess."

"I just wonder if the state of Georgia is going to pay for all of these people's bounced checks," Emmett added.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.