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When Can You Expect To Receive Your Tax Refund This Year?

Can we all agree that last year’s tax refund situation was a bit — shall we say — it left us questioning the competence of the IRS.

I mean, the IRS STILL has a huge backlog of returns that they haven’t yet gotten to. We are quickly headed into Tax Season 2022, so the logjam is just going to snowball into this giant brick so big that they will have large amounts of trouble keeping up.

In December, the IRS still had 6 million returns that hadn’t yet been processed — from last year. That number is going to go through the roof in the next couple of months when they get the bajillion* new tax returns to process for the year.

As of December 23, the agency had 6 million unprocessed individual returns — a significant reduction from a backlog of 30 million in May, but far higher than the 1 million unprocessed returns that is more typical around the start of tax season. 

CBS News

When Will I Receive My Tax Return This Year?

Well, if you trust the IRS (which we want to do), they say that MOST Americans should get their tax refunds about 21 days after the IRS receives the completed forms.

Of course there are a couple exceptions to this rule. We are going to hope that your tax refund isn’t one of the many that are going to get held up this year.

There are some pretty simple steps you can take to ensure that you get your tax refund quickly and accurately.

What Can I Do To Make Sure I Get My Tax Refund Quickly?

  • The first thing I’m going to stress is: Make sure you file as early as you can.

Yes, we have to wait to receive the tax forms from our employers. But, once you have them all in your possession, get them filed!

  • Double and triple check the numbers on your return before you submit it!

Small errors on your return will flag it for review, which is a whole other process. Basically, you probably won’t get your money as quickly as 21 days after you file.

Errors in math, transposed numbers, and putting in incorrect numbers can delay your refund by weeks — maybe even months!

  • Don’t guess!

If your employer states that you made $43,259 this year, put EXACTLY that number. Do NOT round it off with a guess — say $43,000 — it will flag the return, and you will have to play the waiting game for your money.

If you have receipts saying that you spent $598 on tax-deductible donations, put EXACTLY that amount. Don’t round it up to $600. That will just flag that return as quickly as you submit it.

  • Don’t expect to get through to the IRS on the telephone.

If you have to ask a question of the IRS, good luck. According to CBS News, the IRS only answered 30% of the calls they received last year. People were on hold for hours, and weren’t even guaranteed that they ever spoke to someone.

I can tell you the frustration from first hand experience. I called the IRS and waited 3 hours and 29 minutes for someone to answer. When it was finally my turn to talk to someone, they hung up on me. I’m sure we just got disconnected, but I didn’t even get my name out. I was fuming. It’s not like I could have called right back. It would have been another 3 1/2 hours!

If you can get your question answered by your CPA or tax software, go that route. Do Not Expect To Talk To The IRS. It isn’t a guarantee.

What Are Specific Things I Can Do To Make Sure I Get A Quick Tax Refund?

  • File Electronically

Taxpayers who file electronically are more likely to have their returns processed quickly. 

CBS News

If you submit your return electronically, a computer can process the information. On the other hand, if you submit a paper return, they have to be handled by actual people.

Cut out the middle-man, and submit more quickly using electronic filing! If you go to a CPA, they should know how to do this for you.

  • Get Your Refund By Direct Deposit

With direct deposit, the IRS can just scoot your refund on into your account after it is processed.

If you don’t use direct deposit, you will have to wait until they can mail you a tax refund check. We all know how check refunds did last year — people are STILL waiting.

  • Save Any Letters You Get From The IRS.

You can expect a letter concerning your third Stimulus Check, and the advanced payments on the Child Tax Credit (if you qualified).

Don’t throw those letters away. You will need the exact numbers from those letters in order to process your tax return. Like above, do not make a guess at the numbers. It will just flag your review — which will take more time.

The IRS will send two letters: 
– Letter 6419 — informing taxpayers of their advance CTC payments. The agency began sending these letters in December and will continue to do so in January.
– Letter 6475 — about the third stimulus check. That letter will be sent in late January.
Keep both of these letters and refer to them when you complete your tax return, tax experts said. 

CBS News

Is There Anything Else I Should Know About My Tax Refund?

YES. If you claim an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Child Tax Credit, you can’t submit your tax return before mid-February.

Why? This extra time is an attempt to squash any fraudulent activity with regards to the credits mentioned.

Everyone else can begin filing your tax return on January 24, UNLESS you are claiming the EITC or the Child Tax Credit.

Any questions? Ask your tax preparer, go to the IRS website, or if you have a whole free day, you can call the IRS.

*Okay, it’s a made up number. You get the point.