Say you have 5 kids? North Carolina wants proof

The N.C. Department of Revenue dispatched letters this year to 6,700 North Carolina taxpayers who claimed a large number of dependents, at least five children, on their taxes.

The tax agency's message was simple: Prove it.

"They wanted to see birth certificates, Social Security cards for all of our children, proof that we were married, our federal tax return," said Cynthia Leugers, a mother of nine in Indian Trail, near Charlotte. "I had to write up a statement saying that they were all our natural children, that they lived at our address in 2008."

The new requirement has sent families scrounging through file drawers, requesting copies of documents from government agencies and typing out descriptions of their immediate family tree. The Revenue Department is verifying dependents of more taxpayers and doing it before refund checks go out, instead of auditing them afterward. Refund checks have been delayed in many cases.

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