Some Long Islanders are fuming that the state is delaying their tax refunds by a couple of weeks.
Gary Chan, 43, of Greenvale, said he filed his return in mid-February and was counting on a state refund of nearly $2,000 to help pay his bills.
"When they want money from us, I can't be late for a half-hour," said Chan, a restaurant employee who said he hasn't been able to get steady work since October. "I'd get a penalty. It's not fair."
State tax refund payments were suspended Friday after they reached a $1.25-billion cap, which was enacted to ensure the state doesn't run out of money before its fiscal year ends March 31. State budget director Robert Megna had said those who filed from late February into the first few days in March were likely to be affected.
Electrician Alan Tyson, 49, of Brentwood, who is unemployed, said he was banking on his $2,100 state return to pay his property taxes before the overdue fines mount. "I'm already late," he said. Of the delayed returns, he asked, "Are we going to get interest on that?"
Wantagh accountant George Louie said he's been busy fielding questions from his clients. "They're counting on that money," he said. Louie said the delay has left some of his small business clients scrambling because they were planning to use large refunds to help pay their state sales tax bills.
Rosemarie Hayman, 49, of Medford, who was also planning to put her nearly $1,000 state return toward her property tax bill, said the state was holding her money hostage. Hayman, a director of religious education, said, "There are just some things you don't play with, and this is my money."
Mary Kovar, 51, of Hempstead, said her family anticipated using a refund of nearly $2,000 to help pay to visit a potential college in Texas for her son this month. "It's extremely upsetting," Kovar said. "We were earmarking this refund to take care of airfare and hotel."
However, other taxpayers waiting for refunds said it was wise for the state to hold off.
Tom Focone, 74, of Stony Brook, said he was expecting a state refund of less than $1,000 but was not upset at being forced to wait. "Given the current budget condition of the state, I think their move is fiscally prudent," he said.
Howard Fenenbock, 77, of West Hempstead, said he was planning to bank his $610 return. "Having to put off getting a refund is minuscule compared to people losing their jobs and taking pay cuts and all of that," said Fenenbock, a retiree.