Tax returns, like snowflakes and thumbprints are unique and individual. So too, is each taxpayer’s refund. This is something for taxpayers to remember next year when someone they know says or posts on social media about receiving a federal tax refund.
Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible a taxpayer’s refund may take longer. Several factors can affect the timing of a taxpayer’s refund after the IRS receives their tax return. Here are a few things taxpayers should keep in mind if they are waiting on their refund but hear or see on social media that other taxpayers have already received theirs.
- The IRS and its partners in the tax industry continue to strengthen security reviews. This helps protect against identity theft and refund fraud. This means some tax returns need additional review, taking longer to process them.
- It can take longer for the IRS to process a tax return that has errors. Therefore, taxpayers should consider filing their return electronically. The e-file software walks the taxpayer through the steps of filling out the return and does all the math.
- E-file software can also help make sure a tax return is complete. This is important because it can also take longer to process an incomplete return. The IRS contacts a taxpayer by mail when more info is needed to process the return.
- By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds for people claiming the earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit before mid-February. The law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund. This includes the portion of the refund not associated with EITC or ACTC.
- It can take banks or other financial institutions time to post the refund to the taxpayer’s account. It can take even longer for a taxpayer to receive their refund check by mail.