Report: IRS Updates Tax Refund Delay Status

By Michael Cohn, Accounting Today

The Internal Revenue Service is providing an update on the status of the tax refund delays that plagued the agency this season.

In late January, the IRS sent an email to tax professionals warning that tax refunds could be delayed a week this tax season because of new anti-fraud safeguards (see IRS Warns of Tax Refund Delays). The IRS had fine-tuned its identity theft filters to prevent the growing trend of tax refund fraud. Many taxpayers who wrote to Accounting Today said they were experiencing much longer delays than a week.

The IRS also had problems with its “Where’s My Refund” tool giving a different date whenever taxpayers checked up on the status of their refunds, and last month the page told many taxpayers that it had no information on the status of their tax refunds (see IRS Experiences Further Tax Refund Delay Problems).

Accounting Today checked in with the Internal Revenue Service to find out the latest status of the delays after learning that the IRS was approximately 2 million tax returns behind last tax season as a result of the identity theft safeguard it had put in place, according to Ohio TV station WTOL.

In response, IRS spokesperson Dean Patterson sent an update from the IRS on the latest situation.

The IRS noted that its processing systems continue to be up and running. “Earlier issues in January and February with IRS systems and the ‘Where’s My Refund’ tool have been resolved,” said the IRS. “In the first few weeks of the filing season, there were two different issues that came up that resulted in longer refund cycles than taxpayers may have expected. Those issues only affected a subset of taxpayers filing returns. Both issues are resolved. Taxpayers who filed after February 13 have not experienced delays.”

The IRS contended that the vast majority of taxpayers filing electronically and choosing direct deposit have continued receiving refunds in the 10-21 day timeframe announced at the opening of the 2012 filing season.

“Overall, tax refunds are running ahead of last year,” said the IRS. “Through late February, more than 45.2 million refunds have been issued this year, compared to 45.1 million for the comparable period last year.”

The IRS also reminded taxpayers that the refund time frames provided by “Where’s My Refund” and tax providers are projected time frames and are subject to revision.

“Many different factors can affect the timing of the refund after the IRS receives the return for processing,” said the IRS. “The IRS is providing additional screening for fraud this year before issuing refunds, but the vast majority of taxpayers can still continue to expect to receive their refunds in a timely fashion.”

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