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GA tax refund check less than maximum amount? Here’s the answer

The amount of the bonus income tax refund you're receiving partly depends on how much in taxes you owed the state in 2020.

ATLANTA — For weeks in this inflation economy, the anticipation was hopeful; Georgia taxpayers have been looking forward to receiving a promised, bonus refund from the state, just when they were needing help the most:

  • A maximum of $250 for single filers
  • $375 for heads of households
  • $500 for married couples filing jointly

But now that checks are arriving, why are some taxpayers receiving far less than the maximum, even though they do not owe any back taxes that the state might be seizing from the refunds?

“Some people will be caught off guard when they don't receive the full amount,” tax expert Andrew Poulos of Atlanta said on Thursday.

Poulos said the reason some taxpayers are receiving less than the maximum refund now is that those taxpayers owed so little in taxes in 2020.

The Georgia Department of Revenue suggests that taxpayers check their Georgia tax filing for 2020.

On the state’s Form 500, look at Line 16 (it’s Line 4 on the EZ short form).

If, for example, you’re a single filer and in 2020 owed just $100 in taxes according to Line 16, then that’s all you’re getting back, now--$100, not the $250 maximum.

But, for example, someone who owed $1,000 in 2020 would now be getting back the maximum refund of $250, $375, or $500, depending on their tax filing status.

It doesn't matter how much the taxpayer actually paid on their 2020 return, or if they received a refund that year. The amount of the special, 2022 refund is based only on what that person's tax liability was in 2020.

“You cannot receive any more than your tax liability,” Poulos said.

That means those who owed just a little in taxes - including, possibly, the poorest among us - are getting the smallest refunds, now.

“You can't get back what you haven't never paid in,” Poulos said. However, he emphasized that most people are receiving the maximum refunds.

“Because it's highly likely that most people had a tax liability of more than $200 or $500,” he said. Though people are likely grateful for any help filling the tank and the grocery cart.

The Georgia Department of Revenue says taxpayers who want to check to see if the amount of their refund checks is calculated correctly should call 877-423-6711, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

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