IRS Reports Traffic Delay for Refund Inquiries

By Ken Berry

There's a massive traffic jam on the IRS website. What's causing the delay? An overabundance of eager taxpayers asking "Where's My Refund?"
In an unusual posting, the IRS has alerted taxpayers and professional practitioners that the Where's My Refund? feature and other related applications may not be available due to the  extra-high volume of inquiries. To avoid disruptions, the IRS is requesting that taxpayers check on their refund status only once a day.
It makes sense because IRS systems are updated on a daily basis, usually overnight, and the same information is available on the Internet, IRS2go smartphone app, or the IRS toll-free line. So there's nothing to be gained by trying to contact the IRS several times during the day.
The IRS provides three updates: 
  1. When the tax return is received
  2. When the refund is approved, and 
  3. When the refund is sent.
It says that the best time to check on refunds is during the evening hours and on weekends.

Talking Points

Here are some tips to help clients with their refund questions:

  • Have the right tax information ready before using any of the IRS refund tools. This includes your Social Security number, filing status, and refund amount.
  • There's no need to check Where's My Refund? more than once a day. 
  • To avoid system delays, the best times to check on refunds are evenings and weekends.
  • Don't bother to call the IRS about your refund. The telephone service has the same information that's available on Where's My Refund?.
The IRS has touted the Where's My Refund? feature as a 24/7 service. Taxpayers can check on the status of their federal income tax refunds twenty-four hours after the return has been e-filed. If a paper return is filed, they can check four weeks after the mailing.
Despite some complications over forms and schedules that had to be updated after the "fiscal cliff law" was signed in January, the IRS claims the tax filing season is off to a good start. Typically, nine out of ten taxpayers will receive their refund in less than twenty-one days when the return is filed online and they arrange to have the refund deposited directly into a bank account.
The IRS is already receiving more than one million returns a day, and the volume – as well as the number of inquiries about refunds – is expected to increase during the President's Day weekend.
Approximately 75 percent of individual filers are in line for refunds. For last year's filing season, the average refund was $2,803.


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