What can I do to get my money?
The tax returns that face the longest delays are the manual paper returns. If you want to give your return a head start and help eliminate the stress of filing, pick a reliable tax filing software program and get it in as soon as possible.
Otherwise, unfortunately, the only things you can do to get your refund sooner is to make sure your return is complete and contains no errors before you hit “submit”.
And you can start checking the IRS’s Where’s My Refund? tool 24 hours after uploading your forms (or 4 weeks after you mail your return) to get the current status of your refund.
If you’re going to end up potentially waiting longer for your refund this year, you may as well doing everything you can to ensure it’s the biggest refund you can get.
Who is calling for a deadline extension?
Tax season opened on Feb. 12 three weeks behind schedule because the IRS was busy at the time processing the $600 second stimulus checks.
Taxpayers have until April 15 to file their taxes, although in light of the backlog and stimulus checks push, advocates are pushing for the IRS to grant a deadline extension this year.
Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana residents who were impacted by a destructive winter storm have been given until June 15 to file. But Democrats on the Ways and Means committee have written to the IRS commissioner asking that the deadline be extended to July 15, as it was last year.
“Facing enormous strain and anxiety, taxpayers need flexibility now. We demand that the IRS announce an extension as soon as possible,” Reps. Richard Neal and Bill Pascrell, Jr. wrote in the February statement.
Accounting and tax groups have also added their voices to the calls for more time. The National Association of Tax Professionals also wrote the commissioner and cited a poll of tax professionals indicating that 71% of them would support an extension.
What’s going on at the IRS?
Last year’s extension was meant to help IRS employees catch up after pandemic closures set them off track. Unfortunately, the agency doesn’t appear to be any better prepared this year, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.
The report, dropped earlier this month, says the pandemic has only served to highlight how outdated the IRS’s paper-reliant system is. And the accountability office notes that 40% of businesses can’t file their taxes electronically so need to rely on the manual filing process.
The agency isn’t set up to deal with complications through a virtual process, the current system requires taxpayers to appear in person at an IRS office for certain issues.
The agency did warn taxpayers when the season officially opened that they should expect limited face-to-face operations, heavy call volumes for its support lines and delayed refunds for paper returns — although it gave no indication of timelines on delays.
What if I need money right away?
In the face of delays, if you need some extra funds ASAP, you have a few options to make room in your budget right now.
Cut the cost of your debt. Paying with your credit card is convenient — until you’re left with all this expensive interest. Make your debt easier to carry — and unload sooner — by folding your balances into a single debt consolidation loan at a lower interest rate.
Slash your insurance bills. Car insurance companies have been handing out discounts to drivers sticking close to home through the pandemic. Not yours? Sounds like it’s time to shop around for a better deal. And while you’re looking, you could also save hundreds on homeowners insurance by comparing rates to find a lower price.
Trim your budget to free up more cash. By finding a few creative ways to cut back, you can possibly rearrange your budget to give yourself your own “tax refund”. Save on your energy bills by waiting to run your dishwasher and washing machine during off-peak hours. Have a hobby or special talent? Turn it into a side hustle to bring in extra income. And, download a free browser extension that will automatically scour the web for better prices and coupons whenever you shop online.