A Source reader named Rachel asks the Answer Desk "to inquire when taxpayers might receive their statutorily mandated refunds. These were supposed to be issued in the beginning of June."
With the help of a recently approved rolling line of credit for the government, refunds should be largely done by the end of August, Finance Commissioner Angel Dawson Jr. said Tuesday in a statement.
So far this fiscal year, the V.I. government has paid $20 million in income tax refunds to some 6,098 taxpayers, Dawson said. About $1.5 million in prior year income tax refunds are still awaiting payment, based on Bureau of Internal Revenue information, he said.
"Prior year refunds are typically to those taxpayers who were subject to audit or who were required to provide additional documentation to support their income tax filing, or those taxpayers who filed their income tax returns late," Dawson said.
With legislative authorization for a line of credit for cash flow purposes in place, Dawson, who is also executive director of the V.I. Public Finance Authority, said the Finance Department is working with BIR to pay prior year refunds and to process current year refunds.
“Thanks to the diligent efforts of our employees, the BIR has processed over 14,000 units of 2012 income tax refunds totaling more than $32 million,” said BIR Director Claudette Watson-Anderson in the same statement.
Dawson said that one of the main reasons the administration requested the approval for a line of credit was to pay income tax refunds between now and the end of August. “It is our intent to formalize the line of credit within the next few weeks and to continue the ongoing process of payment income tax refunds.”
Many Virgin Islanders have written the Source expressing frustration at the long wait for tax refunds this year. With several consecutive years of severe budget crises and cash flow issues, long delays in refunds and a resulting rising wave of public consternation over the delay is becoming something of a seasonal tradition in the territory.
As with this year, the government sought and received debt financing to pay 2011 refunds in 2012, and many 2011 refunds were not sent out until September of 2012.
Many 2008 and 2010 tax refunds also were delayed, and the issue is chronic and recurring. Government officials have consistently cited year-end cash flow problems as the reason for delays. (See related links below.)