Tax season is here for most Americans—and that means that millions of financially struggling individuals may be in line for much-needed cash refunds.
But with new codes to deal with and more than a hundred sixty million coronavirus stimulus checks being sent out by the Internal Revenue Service, there is a high likelihood that the processing of tax returns and the associated refund deliveries will be delayed.
Moreover, adding to the much-dreaded wait is the new extended Tax Day deadline of May 17.
Know that for some early filers, there have been reports that the average wait time for a tax refund has been roughly six weeks to eight weeks, which is far longer than the typical wait time of three weeks or less.
Keep in mind that many have filed already in order to claim either or both of the missing first two stimulus checks. 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 receive the overdue payments.
“If you didn’t get any payments or got less than the full amounts, you may qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit and must file a 2020 tax return to claim the credit even if you don’t normally file,” says the IRS website.
It appears that such rebates and tax credits 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 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.
Further delaying tax refunds is the fact that the agency is holding twenty-nine million tax returns for manual processing, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent arm of the tax agency that looks out for interests of consumers.
But according to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, the 2021 tax filing season is continuing “to go smoothly.”
For those who have already filed their tax returns, know that there are a couple of handy ways to track the refunds that they are entitled to.
First, enter the necessary personal information on the IRS tool Where’s My Refund, and that should eventually take the taxpayer to a page that shows the status of the tax refund. If not, the individual may be asked to verify their personal information and try again.
There is also a mobile app called IRS2Go that can check the status of refunds. Know that the IRS updates the data in this tool roughly every twenty-four hours, so taxpayers can receive up-to-date information regarding their refund on a daily basis.
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.