New York State has paid out $4.4 billion in personal income tax refunds so far this year, state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced Monday.
The refunds were sent to 4.6 million filers.
DiNapoli said another 471,000 refunds totaling $466 million would be paid in the next couple of weeks. About 7 million refunds are sent every year.
The state Tax Department estimated the average refund totaled $826, though it disagreed with the comptroller on the total amount of refunds paid to date, saying it was $3.8 billion as of Monday.
DiNapoli said his auditors have stopped $21.3 million in fraudulent refunds so far this year. This is on top of fraud discovered by the Tax Department.
Tax Department spokesman James Gazzale said it has “set aside 276,000 requests for refunds to date because they are suspicious.” The requests totaled $468 million, he said.
The comptroller’s office reviews refund requests approved by the Tax Department before issuing checks. DiNapoli said a majority of the fraud discovered by his auditors stemmed from tax returns where taxpayers claimed tax credits based on a fake or inflated number of dependents, understated income or provided other false information.
He also said his office stopped more than $2.2 million in refunds that were tied to unscrupulous tax preparers who filed false returns containing such things as questionable Social Security numbers and intentionally misstated deductions.
Approximately 92 percent of taxpayers file their returns electronically, according to the Tax Department. Ten million personal income tax returns are filed annually in the state.