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New Yorkers Still Waiting for State Tax Refund Checks

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Queens therapist Tracie James filed her state income tax return last month.

Brooklyn customer service rep Marcia Clement filed hers a few weeks later.

And Sharon Jenkins, a Manhattan receptionist, sent off hers even earlier – in the beginning of January.

James, Clement and Jenkins have something in common, though they wish they didn’t. They still haven’t received their state tax refunds.

“We don’t know what the holdup is, but whatever it is, it’s unfair,” Jenkins, 38, said. “They don’t have any problem taking your taxes. They shouldn’t have any problem getting it back to you when they should.

“These are hard times right now. Money is scarce for everyone.”

Scores of New Yorkers have contacted the Daily News in the past week, complaining that they are still waiting for their state refunds. The crippled economy has made the delay even more painful, many said.

“I need this money,” said Clement, a 44-year-old single mother. “I’m traveling soon, and I’ve got a baby to support.”

Clement said that since receiving her federal refund early last month, she has called the state’s hotline repeatedly in search of answers. She is still waiting.

State Tax Department spokesman Thomas Bergin said there have been no widespread delays.

By the end of the day Thursday, 1.78 million refunds totaling $1.4 billion had gone out the door.

During the same point last year, 1.82 million refunds totaling $1.48 billion had been processed.

“The numbers are very close to last year,” Bergin said. “They are not indicative of any slowdown or delay.”

That doesn’t mean some people’s returns haven’t been delayed.

Processing started a week later than normal because of a federal change, Bergin said.

Others have been delayed because filers made mistakes that need to be corrected or a return was randomly selected as part of the state’s more aggressive fraud and accuracy review, he added.

By the end of the fiscal year on March 31, the state expects to have processed 2.2 million refunds totaling $1.75 billion. That’s 320,000 more refunds than last year.

“We’re pushing them through as fast as we can,” Bergin said. “Most people who have had a delay will have their refunds by the end of the month.”

For people like Winnie Smith, 65, that’s not soon enough.

Smith, of Coney Island, is out of work and caring for her grandson.

“I filed on Jan. 16,” Smith said. “I should have had my money a long time ago. … I got bills to pay. This is ridiculous.”