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Hawaii finally issuing 2009 tax refunds

Paradise is a little more pleasant now that Hawaiian tax officials are finally sending out tax refunds that had been on hold.

Earlier this year, the Aloha State announced it was delaying issuance of state tax refunds until July 1.

The extra time allowed Hawaii to push the tax payouts into the 2011 fiscal year that began in July. By doing so, the state saved $275 million against its already projected $721 million fiscal year 2010 revenue shortfall.

Once July arrived, promised the the Hawaii Department of Taxation, it would start sending out the refunds.

Well, the Hawaiian tax collector was true to his word.

USA, Hawaii, Oahu, surf at North Shore

The checks are finally in the mail: Last week, a wave of delayed 2009 tax year refund checks started going out to anxious taxpayers.

The money was due individual, corporate and fiduciary taxpayers who filed their taxes by the state's April 20 due date. The delivery is on a "first-in-first-out basis," meaning those filed earliest are being sent out first.

So much for being on the tax ball and getting your forms in on Jan. 20 instead of April 20, eh?

If you asked that your refund be directly deposited into a local bank account, you should get your refund on or before July 15. Refunds sent to out-of-state banks will take an additional business day.

Hawaii tax officials say that paper refund checks sent by snail mail will take a few weeks longer to arrive.

And if you filed after the April 20 deadline, then the state will get you your refund within the 90 days it's allowed by law to process your return.

Hawaiians expecting money can go to the tax department's website to check on their refund status.

If you prefer, you can contact the Taxpayer Services Call Center during business hours at 808-587-4242 or toll-free at 1-800-222-3229 and select the telephone system's automated "refund status" option.

Pay yourself, not the tax collector: Meanwhile, if it looks like you'll be getting a refund from Hawaii (or any state tax office or the IRS, for that matter) when you file your 2010 taxes, you might want to adjust your withholding now.

That way you'll get your tax money throughout this year and won't have to wait on any refund check in case Hawaii (or your state) has budget issues that again necessitate holding onto taxpayer refunds.

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