"It's the normal busy season," Lansing senior tax auditor Bill Barkyoumb said in an interview Wednesday afternoon.
Busy for auditors processing close to 115,000 city of Lansing tax returns -- taxes paid by anyone who works or lives in the city. (See below for detailed figures.)
This year, the income tax department is processing those returns ... with fewer workers. Tight budgets mean those who retire aren't being replaced. Those who remain are keeping up with the pace of returns coming in thanks to new technology.
"We've had some new software and it's working well at the moment," Barkyoumb said.
So well, auditors say, that the city is actually ahead of schedule.
"We're about 1600 returns ahead in terms of just doing refunds," Barkyoumb said.
Those refunds have to be out to taxpayers by June 15.
"We expect to meet that deadline," he said.
Auditors say they're already 80 percent there. The only ones for whom the city won't be meeting the deadline are people who left out key information in their returns like W-2s. And while the department is waiting for the information, the city will be holding on to the money.
"We won't issue refunds until we know the return is correct," Barkyoumb said.
At the moment, auditors figure there are a few thousand taxpayers who did everything right and got everything in on time, but are still waiting for refunds. The senior auditor's advice for them?
"Please be patient. We'll get them out in the next two weeks," Barkyoumb said.
The city budget anticipates receiving roughly $27 million in city income taxes for the upcoming fiscal year. That money made up roughly 25 percent of the mayor's planned budget, making it the second-largest revenue source for the city, behind the property tax.
BY THE NUMBERS:
City tax returns: 110,000 - 115,000
Individual/household returns: 82,000 - 86,000
Partnership/corporate returns: approx. 28,300
Individual returns filed by city residents: 30,000 - 35,000
Individual returns filed by non-residents: 50,000 - 55,000
Individuals receiving a refund on city income taxes: 50,000 - 55,000
- Source: City of Lansing Finance Dept., income tax division