IRS refund pauses are already frustrating earlier filers who need their 2022 checks most

The inflow of Americans who filed their taxes early this year in the hopes of receiving a quicker return may be experiencing a sense of déjà vu right about now.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is still playing catch up this year after computer difficulties marred last year’s tax season, federal worker shortages, and interminable processing delays. And it’s about to face its first major test.

American families who argued the Earned Income Tax Credit expect their return checks this week. These programs were created to assist the exact people most in need of their refund checks: the working and middle-class families.

Because of a 2015 anti-fraud regulation known as the PATH Act (Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cannot begin providing refunds to those who claimed either of the two tax credits listed above until February 15, 2018. That’s right, today!

According to the tone of several Facebook groups and other online forums devoted to tax refunds, a large number of taxpayers in this category are anticipating the passage of the PATH deadline. 

On the other side, some customers may be alarmed to listen that they may even have to wait some weeks before getting their refund.

According to an IRS update on the subject, if you filed your tax return online and used direct deposit, you should get your refund by March 1. If you filed online and used direct deposit, you should receive your refund by March 1. The good news is that that date is most certainly an overestimation of what will happen.

According to the IRS, certain taxpayers who fall into this group may get their refunds sooner than others. However, considering the apocalyptic nature of last year’s tax season, it’s not a bad idea to have more realistic expectations this year.

The Biden government has proposed increasing funding for the Internal Revenue Service to address infrastructure and personnel challenges. However, many of the issues that plagued the agency last year are still very much in effect, and some new ones are emerging at an alarming rate.

The Internal Revenue Business said last week that it would be abandoning a new verification system after privacy concerns were raised over the use of face recognition technology by a third-party service.

How long it will need to get your tax refund in 2022

Three out of every four Americans get a yearly tax return from the Internal Revenue Service; generally the largest check a family receives during the year.

However, with the start of tax season upon us, taxpayers may see a replay of last year’s processing backlog, which resulted in more than 30 million taxpayers having their forms and refunds held up by the Internal Revenue Service.

Earlier this month, Treasury Department officials warned that this year’s tax season would be difficult, with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) beginning to process returns on January 24.

It is partly due to the IRS’s massive backlog of tax returns dating back to 2021. According to the IRS, 6 million individual tax returns were still pending processing as of December 31, a considerable drop from a backlog of 30 million in May but far higher than the 1 million unprocessed returns that are more normal at the start of tax season.

Taxpayers may be concerned about refund delays in 2022, but the IRS estimates that most Americans will get their refunds within 21 days after submitting their returns. And according to postings on social media, some taxpayers have already reported getting their refunds.

The Internal Revenue Service said on February 11 that it had given 4.3 million refunds totaling $9.5 billion so far.

However, in an article published on Yahoo Finance on Monday, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said that “millions of people are waiting for their tax returns to be completed.” 

He also pointed out that the agency maintains the same level of the workforce as it had in the 1970s, although the population of the United States has increased by 60 percent since then.

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However, there are certain limitations to the 21-day timeframe for receiving a refund. People who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Child Tax Credit will have their tax returns processed more slowly due to regulations designed to prevent fraud. 

However, people who claim those credits and file their tax returns on or close to January 24 will not receive their refund until early March, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Furthermore, there are additional difficulties that might cause your return to be delayed, such as arithmetic mistakes or improperly reporting the amount of money you got from the advanced Child Tax Credit installments.

In some instances, your tax return may be highlighted, resulting in delays of several weeks or even months in processing.

Tax returns with mistakes involving the third stimulus check, which are missing information, or which have suspicions of fraud or theft might take up to 90 to 120 days to be resolved, the Internal Revenue Service warned on Monday.

Additionally, some taxpayers may mistakenly claim the incorrect amount on their tax returns this year, and this will be due to no fault on their part.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that some of its Child Tax Credit letters (letter 6419) included erroneous information regarding certain taxpayers’ amounts of money. The Internal Revenue Service requests that people refer to the letter while completing their tax forms.

However, if this occurs, the taxpayer’s return may not match what the Internal Revenue Service has on file, resulting in the return being flagged and delays in having their return processed and their refund transferred to them, according to Larry Gray, a CPA and government connections fling for the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP).

If the letter is incorrect, people may not understand it, and what steps is the IRS doing to send out a follow-up message to avoid generating a larger backlog in the next tax season?” He made the remarks on a conference call to address the worries of tax professionals regarding the current tax season.

However, suppose all goes according to plan. In that case, taxpayers who e-file may expect to get their refunds through direct deposit as soon as one week after filing, based on prior years’ processing times, according to the trade journal CPA Advisor.

It’s crucial to remember that processing times normally slow down when tax season gets begun, and the IRS receives a greater volume of returns, according to the IRS.

Continuous backlog

Meanwhile, tax experts say there are several things people can take to secure a timely tax refund, which is especially crucial this year, given the IRS’s large backlog of refund requests.

Erin M. Collins, the National Taxpayer Advocate, presented a report to Congress last month. She expressed her “great worry” about the impending filing season, citing the backlog as one of the reasons.

For starters, if you’re going to prepare dinner, you have to make sure that the kitchen has been cleaned up from the previous meal, according to Alliantgroup Vice Chairman Mark W. Everson, who formerly served as Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. “It simply snowballs into a very bad scenario from there.”

According to Collins’ study, which depicted an agency in crisis, one of the most important issues facing the IRS is the backlog in processing tax returns.

“Weeks and weeks” of IRS holds

Although the IRS claims that most refunds would be processed within 21 days, experts caution that delays are probably because the agency is currently processing tax returns for the 2020 tax year.

The Internal Revenue Service processed more than 240 million tax returns following a record-breaking fiscal year. The most recent IRS statistics issued almost $736 billion in refunds, including $268 billion in federal stimulus payments.

About 60 million people reached or visited an IRS office during that time.

During a recent interview, Donald Williamson, an accounting and taxes professor at American University in Washington, said he anticipates “weeks and weeks” of IRS delays in 2022.

The following is my advice for 2022: “File early, get started as soon as possible, and attempt to put your taxes together with the help of an expert.”

Tax preparers said that it is still hard to get in touch with IRS officials over the phone, which counts to the difficulty.

According to Collins, the Internal Revenue Service responded just around one out of nine taxpayer rings during 2021. “A large number of taxpayers are dissatisfied because they are not receiving satisfactory answers to their problems,” she stated.

In the past, you’d have to wait 5-10 minutes to speak with an IRS agent on the phone, according to Christian Cyr, a CPA, and owner of Cyr Financial, which specializes in financial planning and investment management.

However, he claims that his CPAs now have to wait hours to talk with an IRS person, without assurance that they will ever meet with one.

It takes a lot of effort to ensure a successful tax filing process, especially considering that the average refund last year was around $2,800. Here are some suggestions from tax professionals and the Internal Revenue Service on obtaining a tax refund within 21 days after completing your return.

File electronically

It is a move that the Internal Revenue Service highly encourages this year. Although some individuals choose to submit paper returns while others are compelled to do so, the IRS contends that taxpayers who file electronically are more prone to have their returns processed more promptly than those who do not.

The IRS depends on computers to electronically process submitted returns, while paper returns must be processed by human personnel at filing. 

During the epidemic’s early stages, the Internal Revenue Service closed its offices, and personnel stopped accepting mail, causing the processing of paper returns to be delayed.

Even if one ignores the stresses on employees caused by the epidemic, the IRS’s personnel has not kept pace with population growth. 

Although the population has increased by 60% since 1970, the agency’s staff has remained the same size as in 1970. That implies fewer employees will be required to handle a higher number of returns.

According to the Taxpayer Advocate Service statistics, around 10 million paper returns were submitted last year, accounting for approximately 7 percent of the 148 million returns expected to be filed in 2021. 

Tax professionals encourage individuals to join the approximately 138 million taxpayers who have already opted to file their returns electronically.

In his statement on Wednesday, National Taxpayer Advocate Michael Collins stated that paper is the IRS’s “Kryptonite” and that the agency is “still buried in it.”

Get a refund through direct deposit.

The Internal Revenue Service also suggests that taxpayers arrange for their refunds to be deposited directly into their bank accounts. According to the agency, the quickest method to get your money is to employ a combination of e-filing and direct deposit, which transfers the funds directly into your bank account.

Last year, around 95 million customers got refunds, with approximately 87 million choosing for direct deposit. According to the IRS, most taxpayers who file electronically and select direct deposit will get their refunds within 21 days, providing there are no difficulties with the return itself.

Don’t guesstimate

The Internal Revenue Service compares its data with the information provided by people on their tax filings. If there is a difference, for example, if your W2 indicates that you made $60,000, but you report that you earned $58,000, the return is reported for manual review by an employee.

Once this occurs, your tax return may probably be delayed for many weeks or perhaps months. Tax professionals urge consumers to double-check their forms to ensure that data is reported correctly. 

According to Cyr, relying on “word of mouth or the honor system” while completing your tax return is not a good idea. “I can assure you that this will create delays.”

Save IRS letters regarding the stimulus, CTC.

In that vein, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is mailing letters this month to individuals who will get the third federal stimulus check-in 2021, as well as the advanced Child Tax Credit installments, respectively.

These letters will advise each taxpayer of the amount of money they will get via these programs in 2021. These letters are vital papers to have on hand because you will need to refer to the amounts in these letters when completing your tax return.

Most tax returns were delayed in 2021 due to inaccuracies made by taxpayers in declaring the amounts of their 2020 stimulus payments on their tax returns, resulting in their tax files being highlighted for human scrutiny.

“Make sure you don’t have any difficulties that are the result of your carelessness,” Everson said.

However, since some CTC letters were issued to taxpayers in error, the Internal Revenue Service asks them to double-check how much they got by entering their accounts at IRS.gov.

The Internal Revenue Service will issue two letters:

  • Letter 6419 — alerting taxpayers of their CTC payments before the due date. The agency started sending out these letters in December and will continue to do so throughout the rest of the year.
  • Regarding the third stimulus check, see letter 6475. That letter will be mailed out in late January at the earliest.

You should save both of these letters and refer to them while completing your tax return, according to tax professionals.

You may face a break if you claim these tax credits.

Even if you follow all of the instructions in the letter, there are a few difficulties that might cause delays.

In addition, the IRS states that it will not be able to provide refunds, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Child Tax Credit, until mid-February. 

As the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said last week, “the legislation affords this extra time to assist it in preventing false refunds from being paid.”

That implies that even if you file your tax return as soon as possible on January 24, you may still not get a refund within the required 21-day period if your tax return includes either of those tax credits.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, people who claim these credits will most likely get their refunds in early March, presuming they submitted their taxes on or around January 24.

The reason for this is a 2015 rule that delays refunds for persons who claim these credits. This regulation was intended to fight fraudsters who use identity theft to steal taxpayers’ refunds, and it was enacted as a countermeasure to that fraud.