Tax filings down but unemployment claims up in Delaware

DOVER — On average, state tax refunds are currently being returned in 15 days, Director of Revenue Jennifer Hudson said during a public call Friday.

Some have been issued in seven days, she said. The deadline to file was moved back is July 15 due to fallout from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms. Hudson urged Delawareans to file electronically and provide direct deposit information during the 50-minute session; Unemployment Insurance Division Director Darryl Scott and an Internal Revenue Service representative also took part.

The state has received approximately 432,500 personal income tax returns so far this year, compared to 526,400 at the same point in 2019, Ms. Hudson said afterward. The deadline to file was moved back is July 15 due to fallout from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms. Hudson said there’s a “focus currently on processing personal income tax refund requests as promptly as possible, while combating fraudulent refund claims and ensuring the health and safety of our employees and taxpayers.”

Information on filing is available online at revenue.delaware.gov/file.

The hope is to open walk-in centers for public assistance sometime in June, and Ms. Hudson will be taken by appointment at that time.

At a time of historically high unemployment — 14.3 percent in April — Ms. Hudson reminded the public that associated benefits are taxed and suggest increasing withholding upon return to work. More information is available at revenue.delaware.gov/file.

Mr. Scott reported that the Unemployment Division that had 100 employees on March 15 has now been more than doubled with the addition of with contractors, other division staff and via its call center. According to Ms. Hudson, the Division of Revenue is adequately staffed.

The added workforce came from staff on loan from within the Department of Labor, some with unemployment insurance training. The newcomers were added to answer calls and emails, along with processing claims.

“If (they have) no prior UI experience, they receive a crash course in UI and the tools we’re using and a lot of on the job training,” Mr. Scott said after the call.

“For contractors and the call center we developed training materials to train them and continue to develop additional material to assist them with their jobs.”

The hiring and adding of resources continues, Mr. Scott said.

The Division’s new processing system from Sagitec launched on May 16, just less than a month after purchase.

“Key features included the ability for individuals to certify for multiple weeks at the time their claim was filed, the ability for individuals to roll from one program to another which will be needed for individuals displaced for an extended period of time, the communication tools inherent to their platform (claimant portal, email reminders), the ability to support the electronic capture of documentation to support the claim, and lastly the workflow functionality to assign work to different team members as a claims moves through the process,” Mr. Scott said.

Mr. Scott said the number of claims received in the past nine weeks, 95,824 exceeds any historical time during the past 30 years —possible longer. That is the equivalent to the number of claims the Division received from April 2017 to February 2020, a period of 35 months.

The benefits paid last week, nearly $46 million is nearly 80% of what the Division paid out in all of 2019, Mr. Scott said.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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