Technical Computer Issues at IRS Delay Tax Refunds

By Ken Berry

Early bird tax filers are finding it's taking longer than usual to receive their federal income tax refunds this year. In the past, taxpayers who filed electronically could expect to get their cash within one to two weeks. For 2011 returns filed during the first full week of February, it's taking from fifteen to twenty-one days, or even longer in some cases, to receive a refund.
The IRS is attributing the delays to technical computer issues relating to new safeguards designed to screen out fraudulent refunds. It doesn't matter which tax software or filing method is being used by the tax preparer.

The IRS is attributing refund delays to new computer safeguards designed to screen out fraud. It doesn't matter which tax software or filing method the tax preparer used.
Nevertheless, the IRS is stoutly defending its position. It also insists that the computer glitches have been resolved. "The vast majority of taxpayers can still continue to expect to receive their refunds in a timely fashion," says IRS spokesperson Michelle Eldridge.
Taxpayers can check the status of their refunds by visiting the IRS website "Where's My Refund?" page. When this tool is working properly, the status will change as a return works its way through the system. But when taxpayers who filed early in February tried to track the progress, they were informed that the IRS had no knowledge of their return. Naturally, this caused fear and anxiety among some filers, who worried that their tax returns were lost in cyberspace, despite an acknowledgment received by the tax return preparer that the return had been accepted.
The IRS says "not to worry." It's assuring tax filers that the acknowledgement is the only proof they need that their return has been filed, even if "Where's My Refund?" indicates otherwise. So you can tell your clients to rest easy. Unfortunately, however, there's no way to speed up the process for those who were counting on a super-quick refund by filing early. Other taxpayers who filed later might still obtain their returns first. 
As of February 16, the IRS said it had issued 34.8 million refunds totaling $110.9 billion. During the same period in 2011, the IRS issued 36.1 million refunds for a total of $115.3 billion. At this writing, the average refund is approximately $3,183.
Bottom line: For many taxpayers, it's certainly worth the wait.
Related articles:

You may like these other stories...

Cybersecurity is no longer the domain of an organization's IT staff. It's moved to the boardroom, and in a big way. Accountants and financial managers may have been thinking it's just the province of the tech...
You probably don't want to think about how many times you access the File menu in Excel 2010 or 2013. Personally I think Excel 2010 has the best possible File menu arrangement, other than having Print Preview grafted...
Following other recent high-profile hacking events, investigators discovered yesterday that hackers broke into the draft work paper files of several famous CPA firms. Revealing images of the scantily clad documents have been...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Sep 24
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.
Sep 30
This webcast will include discussions of important issues in SSARS No. 19 and the current status of proposed changes by the Accounting and Review Services Committee in these statements.
Oct 21
Kristen Rampe will share how to speak and write more effectively by understanding your own and your audience's communication style.
Oct 23
Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.