State income tax refunds will start being issued March 1, even for people who file early, to give the state enough time to gather the information needed for its anti-fraud measures.

Treasury Department spokeswoman Jennifer Sciortino said the schedule is the same as in the past few years and is consistent with what it done in dozens of other states.

“Anti-fraud protections need to be revised every year because perpetrators of refund fraud change tactics frequently,” Sciortino said.

Marita Sciarrotta, the state Division of Taxation’s deputy director of taxpayer services, said the refunds begin in March primarily to ensure the state has the data it needs to validate tax returns.

“Although people can start filing their income tax returns at the very end of January, there are some filing requirements by their employers or their banking systems or their pension holders that are not required by law to be in place to a taxing jurisdiction until later in February,” said Sciarrotta.

 

“Given the last six years of identity theft and taxpayer refund fraud, it’s much more difficult for us to vet a taxpayer, their attendant information on a tax return and the validity of what they’re claiming,” she said. “And to ensure that it is the person that we are sending it to, rather than somebody getting a jump on their tax return, it’s better to wait until we have much more concrete data systemically that we can do our matches with.”

Taxpayers who file electronically will generally get their refunds around four weeks after the returns are filed, with some turned around faster than that but others taking a bit longer if they are more complex.

“An old-school paper filing, we recommend that somebody just kind of make a cup of tea and relax because it may take 12 weeks for those tax returns to be fully processed and fully vetted,” Sciarrotta said.