The Administration Continues to Keep Information on EITC Delays in the Dark

NJPP’s months-long attempt to find out how many of New Jersey’s working poor are still waiting for over $50 million in 2011 tax credits has again been delayed by the state, which cites the need for “legal review” of the information.

Since July, NJPP has been trying to get answers to some simple questions: How many of the 98,812 low-income taxpayers still have Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) claims of $53.5 million pending from their 2011 tax filings? And how many other working New Jerseyans have been denied crucial tax credits because they too are caught up in the state’s fraud investigation?

The timeline of delay:

July 17 (92 days ago): NJPP submits Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for EITC information for tax years 2010, 2011 and 2012 – specifically the number of filers that had received tax credits and the value of the credits paid; the number of filers that were rejected and the value of credits denied; and the number of filers with pending claims and the value of those credits.

July 26 (83 days ago): The Treasury department requests an extension to August 23.

August 23 (55 days ago): Treasury requests another extension to September 9.

September 11 (36 days ago): Treasury finally responds, but only with a copy of the exact information provided to the legislature in April.

September 13 (34 days ago): After NJPP protests that the data requested was not actually provided, Treasury says the information provided was sufficient and suggests that a new request could be submitted.

September 16 (31 days ago): NJPP submits new OPRA for information specifically requesting “most up to date” information.

September 25 (22 days ago): Treasury requests an extension to October 4.

October 4 (13 days ago): Treasury requests another extension to October 14, citing need for “legal review.”

October 16 (1 day ago): Treasury requests a third extension to October 25, again citing need for “legal review.”

The need for “legal review” is odd, since we’re asking for numbers, not the names of EITC applicants, which shouldn’t require any attorney inquiry. On a positive note, it could mean that Treasury is getting ready to supply the requested data. Let’s hope Treasury meets its October 25 deadline, so we can all find out how many millions of dollars are being withheld from working poor families.

NJPP keeps asking because we’ve noticed that when there’s good news, administrations are quick to release information; when it’s not so good they like to push the release back to, say, late Friday afternoon or after election day.

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