Avoid refund delays

Delays can be caused by many reasons.

The National Taxpayer Advocate reported that paper tax returns are like "kryptonite" to the IRS. IRS employees must manually enter the data from paper returns into their computer system, which creates a backlog due to limited staffing. The IRS had a backlog of about 10 million returns at the beginning of this year's tax season.

Unfortunately, some people don't have the option of efiling. Some IRS forms can only be filed using paper forms. In a recent report, the National Taxpayer Advocate informed Congress that some forms aren't available for efiling.

If you are concerned that an ex-spouse might incorrectly claim any of your dependent children, you should file as early as possible. Suppose your ex-spouse files first and incorrectly claims your dependent. In that case, your return will be rejected if you efile and claim your dependent. Consequently, you must mail your return or efile the return without claiming your dependent. You can amend your return later and claim your dependent to get the remainder of your refund. However, amended returns can take several months to be processed.

Receiving your refund by direct deposit to your bank account is faster than receiving your check in the mail. Eighty percent of filers get their refunds by using direct deposit. It's safe and secure. There's no chance of it your check getting lost, stolen, or destroyed. This is the same transfer system used to deposit over 95 percent of Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits.

It's crucial to use accurate numbers. The IRS compares your numbers to the numbers that third parties have reported. For instance, your refund could be delayed if you estimate your mortgage interest and it's more than reported by third parties. If your numbers don't match third parties' numbers, the IRS may send you a letter notifying you of the discrepancy. Due to the IRS mail backlog, it could take months for the IRS to process your response and get your refund.

Be sure to include all income, such as interest, dividends, or any 1099, which reports your income. W2s and 1099s are not required to be mailed until January 31, and you may not receive them for several more days. If a form doesn’t arrive that you are expecting you will need to notify whoever is sending the form.

Wait until you have all your tax forms before filing your return. Sometimes people are in a hurry to get their tax refund or want to finish the filing process.

Filing an accurate return and verifying it for correctness can help to avoid refund delays.

David Zubler is a tax accountant and Enrolled Agent in East Tennessee, providing tax strategies and representing clients before the IRS and has over 25 years of tax experience. He is the author of six tax books and has shared tax advice on national TV. He is the founder and president of Your Tax Care. The company provides business and tax education, including David’s one-minute tax tip radio recordings at YourTaxCare.com. David can be reached at (865) 363-3019 or contacted by email at david@yourtaxcare.com.