ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Tax preparers throughout the Capital Region talked about months-long delays in people’s tax refunds last June. Customers who had their tax returns filed in February were still asking, “Where is my refund?” four months later, according to multiple preparers.

Some preparers, who have spent years doing what they do, said they had never seen delays this long from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Unfortunately, there may be more delays this year.

“I would say about 1-2% of Federal returns we filed are experiencing an extreme delay in issuance of the refund with no explanation from IRS,” Chris Tretter, Tretter CPA, P.C. told NEWS10 last June. “The same thing happened last year. I had never seen it before the pandemic.”

Communicating with the IRS was also difficult last year, compounding the problem. It was frustrating for taxpayers and doubly so for preparers as they fielded calls from customers and tried to get answers from the IRS.

Certified Financial Planner, Ed Canty, said the delays extended to federal and state returns with long delays in the processing of more complicated returns involving items like multiple sources of income, unemployment, and rental property.

The IRS has been struggling to keep pace. They had more than 18 million unprocessed returns and correspondence at the beginning of this tax season, which adds up to more than 23 million items on its backlog, according to U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), a member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, who spoke at a hearing about customer service issues within the IRS on Feb. 17.

Over 250 million calls were unanswered at the IRS in 2021 and people who did get through spent more than 23 minutes on hold waiting for a representative, Sen. Crapo said. “By any measure, the 2022 tax filing season is shaping up to be the most challenging and frustrating in decades, on the heels of challenging 2020 and 2021 filing seasons.  In 2021, just over one in ten Americans was ever able to reach the IRS by telephone.”

However, most people who file electronically will see their refunds within 21 days if they are correct, according to the IRS.

To speed up the processing of tax returns and issuing of refunds, the IRS said people should:

  • File electronically using direct deposit for the quickest refunds.
  • Check for the latest tax information, including Economic Impact Payments.
  • Carefully review guidelines for the Recovery Rebate Credit.
  • Advance stimulus payments received separately are not taxable, and they do not reduce the taxpayer’s refund when they file in 2021.

Reasons why a refund can take longer than 21 days:

  • Errors, such as incorrect Recovery Rebate Credit information
  • The return is incomplete
  • The return needs further review in general
  • The return is affected by identity theft or fraud
  • The return includes a claim filed for an Earned Income Tax Credit or an Additional Child Tax Credit
  • The return includes a Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation PDF, which could take up to 14 weeks to process
    *Source: IRS website

“Planning for the nation’s filing season process is a massive undertaking, and IRS teams have been working non-stop to prepare for this as well as delivering Economic Impact Payments in record time,” said Commissioner Chuck Rettig when the IRS announced the start of tax season. “This start date will ensure that people get their needed tax refunds quickly while also making sure they receive any remaining stimulus payments they are eligible for as quickly as possible.”