Treasury Department officials warned in January that this year’s tax season will be a challenge with the IRS starting to process returns on January 24. That’s largely due to the IRS’ sizable backlog of returns from 2021. As of December 31, 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.
“IRS is in crisis, Taxpayer Advocate warns”
That may make taxpayers nervous about delays in 2022, but most Americans should get their refunds within 21 days of filing, according to the IRS. And some taxpayers are already reporting receiving their refunds, according to posts on social media.
Getting refunds within 21 days of filing
If all goes well, though, taxpayers who e-file can receive their refunds via direct deposit as quickly as one week after filing based on previous years’ processing time, according to trade publication CPA Advisor.
Ensuring smooth tax filing comes with a lot on the line, given that the average refund last year was about $2,800. Below are tips from tax experts and the IRS on how to get a tax refund within 21 days of filing.
1. File electronically
This is a step the IRS is strongly urging this year. Although some people may simply like filing paper returns — and others may have no choice — the agency says that taxpayers who file electronically are more likely to have their returns processed quickly.
“Paper is the IRS’s Kryptonite, and the agency is still buried in it,” National Taxpayer Advocate Collins said on Wednesday.
2. Get a refund via direct deposit
The IRS also recommends that taxpayers arrange to get their refunds by direct deposit. The agency says the fastest way to get your money is to use the combination of e-filing with direct deposit, which sends the money into your bank account.
3. Don’t guesstimate
The IRS checks its data against the figures taxpayers detail on their returns. If there’s a discrepancy — say your W2 shows that you earned $60,000, but you write on the return that you earned $58,000 — the return is flagged for manual review by an employee.
Once that happens, it’s likely your tax return will face a delay of weeks or even months. That’s why tax experts advise people to check forms carefully to ensure they’re reporting data accurately. Filling out your tax return shouldn’t rely on “word of mouth or the honor system,” Cyr said. “I guarantee that will cause delays.”
4. Save IRS letters about stimulus, CTC
Along those lines, the IRS is sending letters this month to taxpayers who received the third federal stimulus check in 2021, as well as the advanced Child Tax Credit payments.
These letters will inform each taxpayer what they received through these programs in 2021 — they are important documents to hold onto because you’ll want to refer to those amounts when filling out your tax return.
Written by Aimee Picchi —With reporting by the Associated Press.