400 duplicate tax refund checks mailed by state

The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration sent out nearly 400 duplicate refund checks to taxpayers last week, about a week after the Department of Employment Security sent out 1,200 duplicate unemployment checks.

All told, roughly $400,000 of the state’s money was sent out by mistake. However, both departments said they should recoup all of the money without much of a problem.

The incidents don’t appear to be related. Both agencies have separate computer systems to begin with and both mistakes were the result of human error while each department underwent a switch to other computer systems.

The Revenue Administration switch was part of a change affecting other state departments, said Revenue Commissioner Kevin A. Clougherty. An abbreviated file was attached to another file, resulting in 395 duplicate checks being sent out Aug. 25, he said. Clougherty said banks were notified, and letters went out on Aug. 28, asking taxpayers receiving duplicates to return the checks. The department, which included a self -addressed envelope, said it already has received about half of the checks back. Only one was been cashed so far, and the recipient later returned the money.

The Department of Employment Security glitch occurred on Aug. 18. It affected about a tenth of the 11,000 checks sent out that day, according to Darrell Gates, the state’s deputy employment commissioner. An operator inexperienced with the new system was trying to align the address with the zip code and stopped the check run, he said. But the computer spit out both that run and the replacement run. Again, the recipients were notified and most of the checks were returned. Those who cashed the checks either later reimbursed the state or had money taken out of the following week’s check, he said. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW