Tax refunds, a lifeline for many Americans to help get caught up on bills, or to buy much-needed items, could once again take some time to reach Americans in 2021.
Earlier this year, many tax payers complained about delayed refunds amid the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. The IRS sent many of its employees to work from home, resulting in delays in processing refunds. It was also difficult for many Americans to contact the IRS.
Meanwhile, the IRS was processing millions of economic impact payments as most American adults were eligible to receive a $1,200 payment from the federal government.
The IRS advised tax payers on Tuesday to not rely on a tax refund coming by a certain date.
“The IRS always cautions taxpayers not to rely on receiving a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying bills,” the IRS said on Tuesday. “Some returns may require additional review and processing may take longer. For example, the IRS, along with its partners in the tax industry, continue to strengthen security reviews to help protect against identity theft and refund fraud. Just like last year, refunds for tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit [lnks.gd], cannot be issued before mid-February. This applies to the entire refund, even the portion not associated with these credits.”
The IRS said that the fastest way for tax payers to obtain a refund is to file electronically and request payment via direct deposit.
The IRS said that once a tax return is received, Americans can track their refund using the “Where’s My Refund” tool on its website.
According to the IRS, the agency issued 122 million refunds for tax year 2019, totaling $452 billion. The average refund was $3,704. All told, the IRS processed 253 million tax returns for last year.