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Early tax filers reporting IRS refund delays

IRS late start, new stimulus checks slowing processing
Tax refund loans give cash now to early filers
Posted at 10:35 AM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 11:20:31-05

It's a new year, but many of the same old problems remain when it comes to tax filing.

Three weeks after the IRS started processing returns, complaints are already coming in about late refunds.

Heather Niehaus is a busy mom of a 2-year-old girl, and every dollar counts at her Hamilton, Ohio home.

So she filed her taxes as soon as she could this year.

"I was an early filer," she said. "I filed online at the end of January as soon as I got my W2."

But a month and a half later, she hasn't seen anything yet.

Late processing start puts IRS behind

The IRS got a late start processing returns this year due to the early January stimulus checks and did not start taking returns until early February.

But even with that, Niehaus said her refund is now three weeks late.

"It got accepted by the IRS on the 12th of February when they got my return," she said. "But I still haven't gotten mine back."

Why are there already refund delays?

It turns out that many of the pandemic staffing issues that hit the IRS hard last year are still not resolved; pandemic-related staffing shortages remain, and employees are still working from home.

With another round of stimulus checks imminent, that means the agency will again be flooded by thousands of daily phone calls.

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) is warningof several other issues right now, including late mail, issues with the "Where's my Refund" app malfunctioning and leftover returns from last year are still tying up the IRS computer systems.

The IRS says "Where's My Refund" is now working.

What you can do

Forbes magazine says to increase your chance of getting a refund quickly:

  • File as soon as possible, and do not wait until April.
  • File electronically.
  • Request direct deposit of your refund.
  • Check the Where's my Refund feature frequently. (You can try calling the IRS at 800-829-1040, but getting through in recent months has been next to impossible.)

For Niehaus, though, it's all a lesson in frustration.

"It still says it's processing," she said. "And they said possibly it could be another two weeks."

Bottom line: Get those returns done soon, so you don't waste your money.


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