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Talking Tax: Refunds slow to arrive this year

Q: Where’s my refund? I made a special effort to file my tax return earlier than I usually do because I want to use my refund to pay for some remodeling in our kitchen. I e-filed my return and asked that the refund be directly deposited into my bank account. That was a few weeks ago and I still don’t have my money. What’s going on?

A: According to the IRS, 90 percent of the time you should receive your tax refund within 10 to 21 days if you e-file your return. Over the years that I have been e-filing my clients’ tax returns, the refund speed record is eight days from releasing the return for filing to deposit in the bank. That’s pretty unusual, though, and I always tell my clients that two to three weeks is the norm.

This year, however, things seem to have slowed down. I have one client who has now been waiting more than six weeks for his refund – and he is not alone. Many taxpayers have complained about the delays, and a few members of Congress have made inquiries as to what is going on at the IRS. Computer glitches and prevention of identity theft and fraudulent refund claims have been blamed for the slowdown.

The IRS does have a service on its website that helps track the status of your refund. Go to www.irs.gov and click “I’m waiting for my refund” near the top center of the home page. You will need your Social Security number, filing status (single, married filing jointly, etc.) and refund amount. Once this information is entered, you will receive a message offering information on your refund.

You can check the status of your Idaho refund by going to tax.idaho.gov and clicking on the “Where’s My Refund” link at the top of the page. Again you will need your Social Security number and the amount of your expected refund to get the information.

As long as your tax return was properly prepared and filed, you will receive the money you are due … eventually.

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Q: I received an email from the IRS saying they need additional information about my W-2. Don’t they already have this information? Why are they asking for it again?

A: Do yourself a big favor and hit that delete key as fast as possible! Do not open the email; do not lose more than $200! Better yet, forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. This email is a scam.

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email. In fact, even when I am working directly with an IRS agent under a Power of Attorney, we do not use email. We communicate via telephone, fax, and the United States Postal Service.

Unfortunately we live in a world where some people survive by taking advantage of others, and this email came from one of those unscrupulous types. The email may look official with the IRS logo and official-sounding language, but it is not. It came from someone who either wants to mess up your computer, mess up your bank account or mess up your identity. Don’t let them.

By the way, if you ever get a phone call from the IRS but you are not sure they are who they say they are, ask for the agent’s name and employee badge number. Then tell them you will call the IRS (1-800-829-1040) and confirm that they are who they claim to be. The next sound you will probably hear is a dial tone when they quickly hang up!

 

To ensure compliance imposed by IRS Circular 230, any U. S. federal tax advice contained in this article is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used by any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by governmental tax authorities. The answers in this column are meant to offer general information. You should consult your tax adviser regarding the specifics of your situation.

Peter Robbins is a partner in the Boise office of CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP specializing in tax matters for small businesses, individuals, and trusts and estates. Have a question for Robbins? Email your question tonews@idahobusinessreview.com. Enter “Talking Tax” in the subject line.

About Peter G. Robbins, CPA