IRS Delays 2024 Processing Time and Factors Affecting Refunds!

Anticipation for 2024 tax refunds is met with concerns about delays. While the IRS strives for a 21-day processing period after e-filing, delays may occur due to multiple factors, resulting in extended wait times for taxpayers seeking refunds this tax season.

IRS Delays 2024

While most people want their tax refunds quickly, sometimes the IRS takes longer to process them. Knowing why this happens can help you be patient and take the right steps if needed.

The IRS has processed 61.8 million federal income tax returns as of March 2024, which is down by 2.1% from the same period in 2023.  Additionally, the IRS has issued more than 43 million refunds by March, which is a decrease of 12.5% compared to the same time in 2023. 

Despite these figures, the average refund size for 2024 is up by 5.8%, with an average refund of $3,145 compared to $2,972 for the same period in 2023. 

How long does it usually take for the IRS to process a Tax Refund?

The IRS typically issues most refunds in less than 21 calendar days after they receive your return, according to their official website. However, the processing time can vary depending on several factors:

  • Filing method: E-filing with direct deposit is the fastest option. Paper-filed returns and those requesting mailed checks take longer.
  • Return complexity: Simpler returns with no errors are processed quicker than complex ones with deductions or credits requiring extra scrutiny.
  • IRS verification needs: In some cases, the IRS might need to verify your identity or information, leading to delays.

Typical processing times based on filing method:

  • E-file with direct deposit: Within less than 21 days
  • E-file with mailed check: Up to 3 weeks
  • Paper return with any refund method:  6 to 8 weeks from the date the IRS receives your return

Factors leading to IRS Refund delays 2024

There are several factors that can lead to delays in receiving your tax refund from the IRS, even if there aren’t widespread announced delays for the filing season. 

Errors or Inconsistencies:

  • Typos or mismatched information: Mistakes in your Social Security number, bank account details, or other data can trigger delays while the IRS verifies the accuracy.
  • Missing or incomplete forms: If you haven’t included all required forms or schedules, your return might be put on hold until you provide the missing documents.

Return Complexity:

  • Complex tax situations: Returns with many forms, itemized deductions, business income, or foreign income might require extra scrutiny, leading to longer processing times.
  • Claiming specific credits: Credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Child Tax Credit often involve additional verification steps due to potential for fraud, potentially slowing down your refund.

Verification and Scrutiny:

  • Identity verification: If there’s a question about your identity or potential for fraud, the IRS might need to take additional steps to verify it before processing your return. This can involve sending you a verification letter or requiring additional documentation.
  • Random audits: Even without red flags, your return might be selected for a random audit. This will put your refund on hold until the audit is complete.

Processing Methods:

  • Paper filing: Paper returns take considerably longer to process compared to electronic filing. The IRS needs to manually input data from paper forms, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors.
  • Refund method: While both direct deposit and mailed checks take time, opting for a paper check adds an extra layer of processing for the IRS to generate and mail the check.

Other Potential Delays:

  • Backlogs: During peak filing season, the IRS might experience a backlog of returns to process. This can lead to slightly longer wait times for everyone.
  • System issues: Although uncommon, technical glitches or system errors within the IRS’s processing systems can also contribute to processing delays.

Tracking Your IRS Refund Status

The IRS offers a convenient online tool called “Where’s My Refund?” to track the status of your tax refund. 

  • Head to the official IRS website.
  • Look for the “Tools” section on the IRS homepage or search directly for “Where’s My Refund?”
  • You’ll need to provide the following details:
    • Your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
    • Your filing status (Single, Married Filing Jointly, etc.)
    • Your exact refund amount in whole dollars 
  • Once you have entered the required details, click the “Submit” button.
  • The tool will display the current status of your tax return and an estimated timeframe for when you can expect to receive your refund.

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