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Long Waits for Some Oregonians' Tax Refunds

The Oregon Department of Revenue flagged nearly one in three state income-tax returns for manual review in February. (cohdra/morguefile)
The Oregon Department of Revenue flagged nearly one in three state income-tax returns for manual review in February. (cohdra/morguefile)
March 25, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - As income-tax season winds down, some Oregonians who have already filed might be wondering where their state tax refunds are.

About one in three returns was flagged for manual review in February, more than double the usual amount.

Manual reviews lengthen processing time, in some cases, delaying returns up to 12 weeks.

Bob Estabrook, public information officer for the Oregon Department of Revenue, says there are a few reasons returns are chosen for manual review.

"It includes returns that we're looking at specifically because of concerns about potential fraud," says Estabrook. "It also includes returns where fraud is not an issue, but there could be some missing documentation or some math errors."

Estabrook says the number of manual reviews has returned to more typical levels for now, but could slow the process again in April, when nearly 50 percent of people file their taxes.

He adds tax filers who set up direct deposits for their returns can speed up the process.

Although reasons for reviews can be benign, the Internal Revenue Service has flagged some federal returns as vulnerable to fraud because of multiple data breaches identified by the agency.

Estabrook says data breaches are adding a new wrinkle to the department's fight against fraud.

"We have to be adapting to what we're seeing as potential sources of fraud, which may look a little bit different a couple weeks from now than they did a couple weeks in the past."

Oregonians can find out if their returns have been flagged for manual review on the Oregon Department of Revenue's website.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR