Tax payers who submitted their tax returns early this year may have to wait a little longer than anticipated to receive their tax refund. The IRS recently announced there may be delays in tax refunds this year for several reasons, including decreased budgets and staffing and new anti-fraud measures for the IRS computer systems. As of right now, the delays are expected to cost tax payers around a week or longer than the scheduled tax refund dates originally announced by the IRS.
Additionally, tax payers can expect longer wait times for help on the IRS phone lines, increased wait times for tax refunds, and other issues, including the potential for increased identity theft (yet another reason why Identity Theft Protection is a good idea).
The new safeguards put in place by the IRS are designed to better screen tax returns filed electronically and help the IRS combat identity theft fraud and other fraudulent tax refund scams. These thefts cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and can tie up tax refunds for months while the IRS investigates the fraud.
On a good note: the IRS also stated there would be fewer audits this year, due to decreased budgets.
Who is affected by the tax refund delays?
These delays may affect almost all taxpayers to some degree. Most taxpayers will see a a small delay, perhaps up to a week. However delays could be longer for filers with incomplete tax returns, tax returns with errors, or returns that require additional reviews.
The IRS still plans to issue 9 out of 10 returns within 21 days, but some returns could take longer. Tax returns filed by paper are expected to take longer than usual, up to 7 weeks (up from the normal 4-6 weeks).
What to do if your tax refund is delayed
The first thing to verify your tax return was accepted electronically, and verify the date your tax return was accepted by the IRS. If you filed your tax return manually, then you may or may not be affected since it takes awhile for the IRS to enter the returns into the computer (this is done by hand and can take some time depending on the backlog of returns the IRS is working through).
The next thing to do is visit the IRS page, Where’s My Refund page, to verify your tax return will be late. You may also be able to check on your refund date via your tax return software, or your accountant may be able to offer assistance in verifying dates. You can also check the IRS refund schedule to give you an approximate return time.
If your tax return is being delayed for another reason, then it may be a good idea to contact the IRS. It is possible there was an error in your tax return or there may be another problem holding up your refund.
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