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NY has paid out $4.8B in tax refunds: Comptroller DiNapoli

New York State has paid out $4.8 billion in personal income tax refunds so far this year, state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced Friday.

The refunds were sent to 4.9 million filers.

DiNapoli said another 140,000 refunds totaling $160.1 million are expected to be paid this month. About 7 million refunds are sent every year.

The state Tax Department estimated the average refund totaled $820, though it disagreed with the comptroller on the total amount of refunds paid to date, saying it was $4.1 billion as of Thursday. The average refund was $826 last year.

Tuesday is the deadline for filing personal income tax returns. Taxpayers can check the status of their refund and sign up for email notifications at tax.ny.gov/pit/file/refund.htm.

DiNapoli said his auditors have stopped $24.2 million in fraudulent refunds so far this year. This is on top of fraud discovered by the tax department.

Department spokesman James Gazzale said it has set aside 321,752 requests for refunds as of Friday "because they are suspicious." The requests totaled $383 million, he said.

The comptroller’s office reviews refund requests approved by the 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 $3 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 spokesman. Ten million personal income tax returns are filed annually in the state.

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