Refund Delayed When DC Tax Office Asked to Talk to Man Who Can't Speak

What to Know

  • Sandra Cunningham’s 45-year-old son, Troy, has autism, and she filed his tax returns in February.
  • He got his federal refund right away, but his $832 refund from D.C. didn’t arrive.
  • D.C.’s Office of Tax and Revenue wanted to talk to him, but he doesn't talk.

A D.C. woman who has filed her son’s tax returns for years got caught in red tape when the District’s tax office insisted her son call them. The problem was he can’t speak.

Sandra Cunningham’s 45-year-old son, Troy, has autism, and for most of his life, she has been his voice. She filed his tax returns in February and got his federal refund right away, but his $832 refund from D.C. didn’t arrive.

D.C.’s Office of Tax and Revenue needed more information, and Cunningham gave them what they asked for, but it wasn’t enough.

“They said, ‘Well, he has to talk to us.’ I said, ‘Well, he doesn’t talk,’” Cunningham said.

While the tax office didn’t explain why Cunningham had issues getting her son’s refund, it did tell NBC4 Responds it "offers a person who is filling out the tax forms for another person the option to select a third-party designee to discuss his/her return ... or they could also get power of attorney.”

After NBC4 Responds called the tax office, Troy Cunningham got his refund.

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“I'm eternally grateful that we have a group that finds out what's going on in the city,” she said.

When Cunningham initially contacted the tax office, an employee told her they're taking extra steps due to the high volume of tax refund fraud.

The Office of Tax and Revenue offers a person who is filling out the tax forms for another person the option to select a third-party designee to discuss the return by checking the oval in the “third-party designee” block on page 2 of the D-40 or page 1 of the D-40EZ. The person completing the tax form must enter the designee's name and phone number.

Checking the oval also gives the designee authorization to:

  • Give OTR any information missing from the return;
  • Contact OTR for information about processing the return and the status of any refund or payment; and
  • Request, receive and/or respond to OTR notices related to the return.

If the person fails to select the third-party designee box, a power of attorney form or court ordered custodianship must be provided.

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