The IRS offers tax refunds to three in four Americans – this is often the biggest check a household receives in a year. However, with the ongoing tax season, taxpayers could witness a repeat of last year’s disruption in processing when the IRS held back the returns and refunds of over 30 million taxpayers.

Earlier, Treasury Department officials had cautioned that the upcoming tax season would be challenging. This is because the IRS faces a massive backlog of returns from 2021. Approximately 6 million individual returns had remained unprocessed. Yet, the figure marked a sizable reduction from May’s total of 30 million. However, the backlog of unprocessed returns is much higher than the typical 1 million mark.

Delays cause concern among taxpayers

The possible delays in 2022 are undoubtedly making taxpayers nervous. A recent survey from Bankrate states that 1 in 4 Americans are concerned about refund delays. But the IRS assured that most Americans would receive their refunds within 21 days of filing. According to posts on social media, a few taxpayers have already confirmed a receipt of their returns. 

So far, the IRS states that 4.3 million refunds worth $9.5 billion have been issued. However, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig revealed in an article for Yahoo Finance that the returns of millions of people haven’t been processed. He also added that the IRS had maintained the same staffing level despite the American population growing by 60% since the 1970s. 

The 21-day window to claim a refund comes with some caveats. A claim for Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit will delay your tax returns because of rules designed to prevent fraud. Sometimes, the tax returns in those cases could also get flagged, and the delay could extend to weeks or months. Other problems such as math errors or an incorrect statement of advanced Child Tax Credit payments may also slow down the refund process.  

Checking your refund status

The IRS website “Where’s My Refund?” allows taxpayers to check the status of their refund. To do this, taxpayers will need their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or Social Security number and their filing status and return amount. 

Within 24 hours of e-filing their return or four weeks after mailing a paper return, taxpayers can check the status of their refund.

Taxpayers will be notified about their returns when a claim is received, when it is approved for a refund, and when it is sent out.