Tens of millions of tax returns will flood the Internal Revenue Service now that the April 18 filing deadline is here. But the headaches of the latest tax season – and last year’s leftover troubles – will linger in the months ahead.
“The IRS has to get current with not only prior years but this year’s tax returns before they move into the next filing season without this albatross around its neck,” said Erin Collins, the national taxpayer advocate. For the IRS, it has meant putting as many resources and people as possible toward clearing out the backlog that built up in 2021.
Long waits for refunds
For taxpayers, it can mean repeated efforts to get any IRS employee on the phone to answer a question or help with a problem. It means anyone who has filed a paper return this year risks ridiculously long waits of possibly six months or even nine months to receive an income tax refund. The IRS has historically been able to process a refund within two weeks for an electronically filed tax return and up to six weeks for a paper tax return. Hearing that something that once took six weeks can now take six months is simply shocking.
Refund delays create hardships for families who could use that money to cover escalating prices for food at the grocery store, put gas in the tank and, maybe, if they’re lucky, buy a few new things for the house or take the children on vacation.
This, clearly, is not the year to file a paper return if you want fast cash. Some early filers who mailed paper returns in early February are still complaining that they haven’t received their refund. “If they file through paper, unfortunately, taxpayers, they’re going to go to the back of the line. The IRS is processing last year’s returns first before they get to the paper returns this year,” Collins told the Detroit Free Press.
“If you need that refund sooner, I would highly recommend that you file electronic,” Collins said. “If there’s not a problem with a return, those returns are sailing through. Typically those refunds are paid under that 21 day period.”