Personal income tax refunds from New York State averaged $994 this year, up one dollar from 2016, the tax department announced yesterday.
Nonie Manion, acting tax commissioner, said the state had paid $6 billion in refunds to 6 million taxpayers. She also said the department had processed nearly 10 million returns during the 2017 filing season.
The figures were about the same in 2016.
Separately, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced yesterday that the tax department had stopped more than 330,000 refund requests that were deemed suspicious. These requests totaled about $480 million, an increase of nearly 20 percent from 2016, according to Cuomo. “We remain vigilant in our efforts to crack down on fraudsters,” he said in a statement.
New York tax refunds go through two anti-fraud screenings, first by the tax department, and then by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The comptroller’s office stopped an additional 8,818 suspicious refunds this year, totaling nearly $31 million, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman.
“Because of the volume of refunds, it is critical to have two sets of eyes examining refunds,” she said.
The majority of suspicious refund requests involve taxpayers who claimed refundable tax credits based on incorrect information such as fake dependents or understated income.
More than 90 percent of tax returns were filed via the internet this year, according to the tax department.
Taxpayers with household incomes of $64,000 or less qualified this year to use Free File software available through the department’s website.
More than 117,500 taxpayers took advantage of the free filing service, compared to about 56,000 who used a similar free option in 2016.