New Jersey Mistakenly Tells 2,000 People They Underpaid On Taxes, Doesn’t Tell Them About Error

It’s one thing for a state with nearly 4 million people filing tax returns to screw up on a couple of thousand of those filings. It’s another when the state realizes it screwed up but doesn’t make any effort to let people know of the error.

In a story for the Newark Star-Ledger, Consumerist’s own Karin Price Mueller reports on a problem facing around 2,000 New Jersey tax payers who received inaccurate notices from the state about underpayment on their taxes. The affected taxpayers were all people who had made estimated tax payments during 2013.

“Taxpayers inadvertently received underpayment notices because of an error that was discovered on the estimated payment voucher,” a spokesthing for the state’s Department of Treasury tells the Star-Ledger.

However, the rep says the state isn’t making any attempt to notify the affected taxpayers. Instead, each case is being dealt with as the individual taxpayers contact the Treasury to ask what the heck happened.

One such taxpayer says she initially just assumed the underpayment notice was correct when she received it.

“I knew I made all of my estimated tax payments per my accountant’s instructions,” she tells the Star-Ledger. “As a citizen I thought to myself, ‘They already have quite enough of my money.’”

But before she paid the $410 tab the state said she still owed, the woman called her tax preparer.

The preparer then began to hear from other clients who had received the same underpayment notice. A chat with other accountants revealed she was not alone.

“What worries me is that some taxpayers are just going to pay this erroneous bill that they don’t owe because they just want it to go away,” says the accountant.

The state thinks it’s okay to not tell the affected taxpayers about the gaffe because their accounts have been corrected to reflect that they no longer owe the additional money.

But if someone isn’t aware of this fact and assumes the notice is accurate, they are sending money to the state that is not owed.

State wrongly tells 2,000 taxpayers they underpaid their 2013 taxes; won’t send notice about mistake [NJ.com]