A glitch in tax prep software may have resulted in unexpected generosity toward the Oregon’s State School Fund this year. Oregon’s state constitution requires that surplus revenue in the state’s general fund be refunded to the taxpayers at the end of the year. Now some taxpayers (including reader Erich, who sent this in) didn’t get their checks because they say Turbo Tax involuntarily donated the “kicker” to the Oregon State School Fund. Whoops!
“We are getting calls from people who are saying that they used some kind of an electronic software program to file their tax returns and that they did not check the box to donate their kicker,” said Rosemary Hardin, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Revenue. “When we bring up their tax return, that box is checked.”
Hardin said it’s possible that people intentionally checked the box, then forgot. Still, the department is investigating.
Kicker checks — or thank-you letters for donations — began arriving in mailboxes Dec. 8.
About 12,000 people gave a total of $6.7 million in kicker refunds to the State School Fund this year.
That’s twice as many people, and nine times as much money, as was donated to the fund in 2001, the last time there were kicker refunds.
“We’re contacting at least one software company to have them look a little more deeply into their programming,” Hardin said. “We’re looking into if this is a glitch in some software programs or one software program.”
The Department of Education says that they don’t intend to keep accidental donations, but they may have to. There’s no provision in the law for reversing donations. TurboTax says they haven’t received any complaints about the issue.
Bob Meighan, a vice president with Turbo Tax, said the company has not received any complaints regarding Oregon’s kicker provision.
He ran through the program Friday afternoon and said it clearly asks users whether they wanted to make the donation and warns them that the decision is irrevocable.
Odd. If you’re one of the inadvertently generous, you here’s some information from the State of Oregon.
UPDATE: Oregon has been unable to locate the source of the problem and has decided to offer refunds to all taxpayers who filed electronically.