It's tax season, which means many of us have refunds coming. Unfortunately, many filers are having to wait a little longer for their refund checks this year.
Since February, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been dealing with a glitch in the software that handles electronic tax returns. As a result, millions of taxpayers have experienced delays, as well as a lag in accessing information about their refunds.
The problems, embarrassingly, come in the wake of the IRS's heavy promotion for its new modernized tax-filing system, which was geared at reducing the time people had to wait for their refunds. According to the IRS, the delays have generally affected those who filed their returns electronically in early February.
"Taxpayers who filed after Feb. 13 have not experienced delays," Dean Patterson, a spokesman for the IRS, wrote via e-mail. "The vast majority of taxpayers filing electronically and choosing direct deposit have continued receiving refunds in the 10-21 day time frame announced at the opening of the 2012 filing season."
Originally, refunds on electronically filed returns in 2012 had been projected to reach taxpayers within seven to 14 days, which would have been an improvement on 2011.
Still, "tax refunds are running ahead of last year," Mr. Patterson stresses. "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 refund delays follow other problems with the IRS website, including issues with the "Where's My Refund" feature. Taxpayers can click the "Where's My Refund?" link at irs.gov for information on how close their refunds are to reaching them. The IRS recommends checking the site 72 hours after if you have filed electronically; four weeks if you do it by mail. It requires a Social Security number, filing status (single, married, married filing separately, etc.), and exact refund amount.
You can also check your refund status via smartphone, using the IRS's IRS2Go app (a new version was released for this year). The app is free to download at the iTunes app store. Most filers can expect their refunds within the "historical range" of 10 to 21 days after filing, according to the IRS website..
In February, the IRS released this statement in response to calls from filers who couldn't get their refund's status:
We are aware that some taxpayers who have filed electronically and received an acknowledgment from the IRS are concerned when they visit 'Where's My Refund' and are told that we have no information regarding their return. This is a temporary situation, and we expect to resolve the matter in a few days. At that time, taxpayers will be able to get an expected refund date when they visit 'Where's My Refund.'... Taxpayers should not call the IRS unless specifically directed by 'Where's My Refund,' as there is no new information to give them....The IRS apologizes for any inconvenience and will provide updated information as soon as possible.
The issues with "Where's my Refund?" have since been resolved, according to the IRS.
You can also check your refund status via smartphone, using the IRS's IRS2Go app (a new version was released for this year). The app is free to download at the iTunes app store.
The filing deadline for federal taxes is April 17, 2012.