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...

In the old days, we used to tape down receipts from our travels and submit them to accounts payable. But that was before remote employees who may live in a different city from the home office. And of course, there's all...
In 2011, electrical services and technology provider Parsons Electric in Minneapolis, Minn., decided to take its accounting to the cloud. Monica Ross, the company's director of strategic projects, talked with AWEB about...
Event Date: July 24, 2014, 2 pm ET In this presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA revisits the Excel feature you should be using, but probably aren't. The Table feature offers the ability to both boost the...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 16
Hand off work to others with finesse and success. Kristen Rampe, CPA will share how to ensure delegated work is properly handled from start to finish in this content-rich one hour webinar.
Jul 17
This webcast will cover the preparation of the statement of cash flows and focus on accounting and disclosure policies for other important issues described below.
Jul 23
We can’t deny a great divide exists between the expectations and workplace needs of Baby Boomers and Millennials. To create thriving organizational performance, we need to shift the way in which we groom future leaders.
Jul 24
In this presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA revisits the Excel feature you should be using, but probably aren't. The Table feature offers the ability to both boost the integrity of your spreadsheets, but reduce maintenance as well.