Taxpayers find it difficult to talk to a live person using the state tax assistance hotline

DENVER - The state tax assistance hotline is receiving so many calls that many taxpayers trying to get information get disconnected before talking to a live person.

7NEWS has heard from dozens of taxpayers trying to find out why they have not yet received their tax refund.

At 1:40 p.m., 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger tried calling the hotline, 303-238-SERV (7378). His first attempted resulted in a fast busy signal. The second call picked up and required hitting three different buttons (2-2-0) to get to an operator.

Instead of an operator, he received the following message, "We are unable to connect you to an agent due to high call volume." The message continued with a suggestion to reach out to the Department of Revenue online and then disconnected the call.

This pattern repeated for about a dozen phone calls.

At 1:51 p.m., he got a new recording: "We apologize for the delay in answering your call." The recording then told us to remain on the line at that our wait could be up to 30 minutes.

At 2:17 p.m., 37 minutes after starting to call, a customer service representative picked up.

To find out the status of your state tax refund, you can try this process or you can go online and use your online portal login to send a message to the Department of Revenue.

Many tax refunds are delayed because the state stopped issuing them in February for 10 days. The suspension was a result of a data breach with Turbo Tax and other third party providers. The state is now scrutinizing more of the tax returns, to verify the money is being sent to the correct address and that is was requested by the taxpayer and not someone trying to commit fraud.

7NEWS first reported on Friday that state law requires the Department of Revenue to refund your money within certain time frames:

If you file your state tax return by the end of January, the state has 14 days to refund your money.

If you file by the end of February, the state has 21 days.

If you file by the end of March, the state has 28 days.

If you file in April or later, the state has 45 days to refund your money.

If the state fails to meet those time frames, it could be responsible for paying you a five-percent late fee plus interest. As of March 9, the interest would be 6.25 percent.

State law provides certain exemptions from owing late fees

The state is allowed certain exemptions from adding a late penalty to the state tax refund. You will not be eligible for an added late penalty:

If your return is audited or has mathematical or clerical errors.

Unforeseen delays caused by failure of processing equipment.

If you claimed the Colorado job growth incentive tax credit.

If you claimed the enterprise zone tax credit and the Department of Revenue is waiting to confirm your eligibility.

According to a Department of Revenue spokeswoman, if the state is reviewing your tax return to verify the address or to make sure you are the one who actually requested the return, that is considered an "audited" return, therefore exempt from the late fees.

If you want to petition the Department of Revenue for late fees, you can email them through your online portal login or you can try risking the automated system by calling the 303-238-SERV (7378) phone line.

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