advertisement
advertisement

IRS tax refund delays: Finally, some good news if you’ve been waiting for a check

Staffers at the Internal Revenue Service have been working overtime to get through a massive backlog of returns. They just reached a significant milestone.

IRS tax refund delays: Finally, some good news if you’ve been waiting for a check
[Source Images: Getty]

After months of updates about processing backlogs and lowered expectations, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) finally has some good news for taxpayers who have been waiting endlessly for a refund. The agency is about to finish processing all 1040 tax returns.

advertisement
advertisement

Well, not all of them. Just the ones filed last year. But at least it’s progress.

In an update Tuesday, the agency said it was on track to complete its backlog of individual returns filed in 2021 by the end of this week, provided the return has no errors. As we’ve written in the past, the IRS began 2022 with millions of unprocessed paper returns due to a confluence of factors, including outdated technology, understaffing, and COVID-related office closures. Paper returns are cumbersome for the agency because—despite the fact that we’re living in the year 2022—human beings still need to input those returns by hand.

The situation has produced monstrous mountains of paper at IRS processing centers, along with increased calls for more funding to modernize its systems. According to the National Taxpayer Advocate, simple scanning technology could seriously speed things up by reducing the need for manual inputs.

advertisement
advertisement

Without funding from Congress, though, the IRS must continue doing some things the old-fashioned way. Today’s update at least indicates that things are heading in the right direction. 

“As of June 10, the IRS had processed more than 4.5 million of the more than 4.7 million individual paper tax returns received in 2021,” the agency said. “The IRS has also successfully processed the vast majority of tax returns filed this year: More than 143 million returns have been processed overall, with almost 98 million refunds worth more than $298 billion being issued.”

For the better part of the past two years, social media platforms and message boards dedicated to IRS issues have been flooded with posts from taxpayers who say they’ve been waiting for tax refunds from last year or the year before, with many complaining that they have been unable to reach the agency by phone. 

advertisement

Today’s announcement will be welcome news for some, although it may not effectively mean much for taxpayers whose returns have been flagged for review due to errors or other irregularities. The good news is, the IRS has said it is speeding up that process, too. As of last week, 360,000 returns were awaiting corrections, compared to 8.9 million at this point last year. 

According to the IRS, staffers will continue to work overtime to address the remaining unprocessed returns throughout the rest of this year. With luck, they’ll be finished before next April. 

advertisement
advertisement
advertisement

About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

More