I was certainly hopeful when California finally hammered out a budget last month.
But apparently there's a big chasm between enactment of a budget and its practical implementation.
For Californians awaiting their state tax refunds, that means the checks are still not in the mail.
"Even though the budget is enacted, the state must now determine if there is sufficient cash to pay outstanding debts, including tax refunds," says the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) Web site. "Until then, refunds will continue to be delayed."
Uh oh. IOU: Even worse, officials say if the state’s cash flow problems do not improve, Controller John Chiang may need to issue IOUs.
That's right. Old-fashioned pieces of paper promising to eventually pay.
"If the Controller has to issue IOUs," say the FTB Web page, "you will receive a paper IOU
warrant, even if you requested a direct deposit of your refund."
Yeah, that's going to be a real popular piece of mail.
So when might the FTB start cutting tax refund checks? No one knows.
All the FTB will say is that "as soon as the cash problems are solved, the refund delay will be lifted." So keep checking the state Web site for updates.
One teeny, tiny bit of positive news: You might get a smidgen of interest. But that's only under specific circumstances.
Interest on current year state refunds is only paid if the money isn't issued within 45 days after April 15, or the date that your return is filed, whichever is later.
And even in the cases where it might accrue, it won't be much, given the abysmal interest rates now.
Keep those forms coming: Of course, just because the state isn't sending you anything, that's no reason for you to postpone sending in your return, or so say California officials.
The FTB is encouraging folks not to put off filing. Tax paperwork will still be processed even if the state isn't sending out refunds.
"If you have all of the documents and information needed to prepare your return, you may file it any time through April 15 (or October 15, if filed on extension)," says the Web site. "The refund delay does not affect the return due date or our ability to process returns."