If you've been expecting a state income tax refund, the check won't be in the mail anytime soon. The reason, the Department of Revenue has run out of money.
For the third straight year, the state is lagging in refund payments because it spent the money taxpayers overpaid to keep the government running, according to Pepper Bryars, spokesman for Gov. Bob Riley.
Alabama's constitution does not allow deficit spending, so the department can't pay the refunds until other taxpayers send in money they owe the state.
The Revenue Department Web site shows a six-week wait, but some taxpayers can expect a longer delay. Last year it was midsummer before the state was able to mail some refunds. The department issued more than $369 million in individual refunds in 2002.
The state must pay five percent interest on any refunds delayed by more than 90 days. Taxpayers can check the status of their refund on the department's Web site at http://www.ador.state.al.us or by calling (334) 353-2540.