Here's What You Need To Remember: Most eligible Americans may have already received their $1,400 coronavirus stimulus checks, but there is a growing concern among those who have been waiting weeks for their tax refunds to arrive.
Do take note that the Internal Revenue Service is juggling several responsibilities concurrently, and they include the traditional tax refunds, child tax credits, “plus-up” payments, and unemployment benefit refunds. Therefore, it is of little surprise that the agency is struggling to quickly fast-track millions of this year’s tax refunds.
The latest estimates indicate that the average wait time for a tax refund has been roughly six weeks to eight weeks—far longer than the typical wait time of three weeks or less.
One of the chief reasons for the delays is the fact that the IRS is holding nearly thirty million tax returns for manual processing, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA), an independent arm of the tax agency that looks out for interests of consumers. Moreover, the IRS is flagging millions of tax refunds for potential fraud. Although the exact number of refunds flagged is unclear, in 2020, the agency flagged 5.2 million tax refunds for fraud—a 50 percent jump from 2019, the NTA said.
For those who have already filed their tax returns, know that there are indeed ways to track the refunds. First, make sure to take a look at the IRS tool Where’s My Refund—just enter the necessary information on the portal and that should eventually take the taxpayer to a webpage that shows the status of the tax refund.
However, if there are any problems found, the individual may be asked to verify their personal information and must try again.
Be aware that there is also a handy mobile app called IRS2Go that can check the status of tax refunds. The tax agency updates the data in this tool roughly once a day, so taxpayers can be confident knowing that they are seeing the most up-to-date information.
As for those non-filers out there, note that the May 17 tax deadline has already passed, but they can still apply for an extension and file by the October 15 tax filing extension deadline. Keep in mind that filing a tax return can potentially expedite other government-issued funds as well.
“Although (stimulus) payments are automatic for most people, the IRS continues to urge people who don’t normally file a tax return and haven’t received Economic Impact Payments to file a 2020 tax return to get all the benefits they’re entitled to under the law, including tax credits such as the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit,” the IRS writes on its website.
Another payment to keep an eye out for is the refund from 2020 unemployment benefits. The IRS recently confirmed that it reviewed more than 3.1 million returns, and 2.8 million of them were green-lighted for the potentially sizeable checks.
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.
This piece first appeared earlier this week and is being republished due to reader interest.