However, with new tax codes to implement and more than a hundred sixty million coronavirus stimulus checks being sent out, the IRS appears to be struggling to get the refunds into taxpayers’ hands in a timely manner.
In fact, for many early filers, there have been reports that the average wait time for a tax refund has been roughly six to eight weeks, which is far longer than the typical wait time of three weeks or less.
Amid the ongoing pandemic, that’s a tough pill to swallow—especially knowing that, according to the latest data from the IRS, the average tax refund amounts to nearly $2,900. For many cash-strapped Americans, that could equate to two much-needed stimulus checks.
It appears that tax returns filed in 2020 are adding to the backlog at the agency. As of April 9, the IRS has acknowledged it had yet to complete 1.5 million individual tax returns received last year but admitted that they are in the “processing pipeline.”
“We are processing returns received over the summer and fall in 2020 due to the extended July 15, 2020, tax filing due date,” the IRS has stated.
And according to the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent arm of the tax agency that looks out for interests of consumers, the IRS is holding nearly thirty million tax returns for manual processing, which is only further delaying the refunds.
Despite these well-documented issues, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig has asserted that the 2021 tax filing season is continuing “to go smoothly.”
For those who have already filed their returns, know that there are ways to track the refunds. First is the IRS tool Where’s My Refund, and after entering the necessary personal information on the site, that should take the taxpayer to a page that shows the status of the refund.
The other one is a handy mobile app called IRS2Go that can check the status of refunds. To save one the hassle of constantly checking, keep in mind that the IRS updates the data in this tool every twenty-four hours.
Also, be aware that if one still hasn’t received one or both of the stimulus checks from the first two rounds, they can still be claimed by the Tax Day deadline. The IRS has reminded those affected that for this tax season, a Recovery Rebate Credit has been added to all returns, so that people can eventually get access to the overdue payments.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.