Getting IRS tax help gets a bit more complicated
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Where's your refund? Still in the works for ACTC, EITC filers

Updated Feb. 14, 2019

Princess Bride impatience via Giphy.comPrincess Bride impatience via Giphy.com

Mid-February is finally here, the time when the Internal Revenue Service can finally issue refunds to taxpayers who had claimed the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) and/or the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Does that mean these refunds will show up today? No, that's a refund myth, even if you filed your Form 1040 on Jan. 28, the first day that the IRS began processing 2018 tax year returns.

Neither is your refund likely to be directly deposited into your bank account, loaded onto a debit card or as a paper check stuffed in your snail mail box next week.

In fact, the IRS is warning affected ACTC and EITC filers that they probably won't have their tax cash before Feb. 27. And that's in the best-case scenario; that is, when the refund is directly deposited and there are no other issues with the filing.

Reasons for delays: It's no secret why refunds due taxpayers who claim the two refundable, meaning you get money back even if you don't owe any tax for it to offset, credits are slow.

Congress, concerned that ineligible folks were getting EITC and ACTC cash, mandated the mid-February hold starting last filing season. That gave the IRS extra time to make sure the claims were legit.

Other returns are delayed because of the inevitable errors many filers make.

Then there are the increased number of filters and checks that the IRS puts all returns through to ensure that they are being filed by lawful taxpayers and not identity stealing criminals. It's working.

Since 2015, the number of tax-related identity theft victims has fallen by almost two-thirds, according to an IRS announcement earlier this month.

In 2017, the IRS received 242,000 reports from taxpayers compared to 401,000 in 2016, a 40 percent decline. That marked the second year in a row this number fell, thanks in large part, to the IRS' work with its Security Summit partners in the tax industry and state tax departments.

No firm delivery dates: Still, for taxpayers anxiously awaiting tax refunds, the delays can be frustrating.

The IRS used to issue an annual chart, officially known as IRS Publication 2043, of when you could expect your tax refund. Too many folks, however, started taking those delivery dates as strict promises.

So in 2012, the last year of the printed refund timetable, the IRS decided to focus instead online refund tracking. That year, filers started getting more personalized refund status info via the IRS' Where's My Refund? search tool.

Last refund delivery date chart by IRS

Now millions of taxpayers each year use Where's My Refund? to find out, well, where exactly in the IRS processing system their refund is. Once a return is processed, the tracking tool lets the inquiring taxpayer know an expected delivery date for his or her refund money.

The refund data is updated once a day, usually overnight, so checking it more often won't get you any additional info or spur a quicker arrival of your refund.

You can check out Where's My Refund from your PC or laptop, as well as your digital devices with the IRS2Go app. Or you can use your cell phone to call 1 (800) 829-1954 for refund information.

Recreating refund tables: Some folks have recreated the old refund cycle chart to project when refunds filed on a certain date might be available.

These unofficial tables generally use the IRS' oft-repeated statement that it issues nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days to project when refunds filed on a certain date might be available.

I get it. I'm a big fan of tables and charts myself. And I know folks like some certainty, particularly when it involves their money.

But I'm going to have to go with the IRS and its decision to no longer provide even quasi-specific refund delivery dates. Taxes, like life, can get complicated and mess up plans.

That's also why I'm reiterating the caution that the IRS makes in its current, revised Publication 2043, now known as Refund Information Guidelines for the Tax Preparation Community. It says there:

IRS caution re making refund delivery date promises_IRS Pub 2043

Caution
Urge taxpayers not to count on getting the refund by a certain date to make major purchases or pay bills. Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it's possible their tax return may require additional review and take longer.

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Comments

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Randell brooks

I file like everyone early only to be put on hole.i file evey year the same.still in possessing mode for two months and counting what yto do

cassie

I filed the 1st of February and it was accepted the 2nd. I used HR Block like I do every year. I had the process bar up until the 15th then it just keeps saying processing will have a date as soon as it's available. I called the IRS around the 1st of March to ask what is going on that is when they told me that they had to verify my EIC, the lady told me if they are my kids I have nothing to worry about. I was so pissed at that point and ended the call. On the 9th of March I called back because I wanted a time frame since I never got one before. The guy from the IRS said I should expect something between the 2nd and the with of April. 2 days later I have a letter in the mail that says they are reviewing my return for the EIC and I should hear something with in 60 days from the data of this letter. I look at the date and it was dated for the 9th of March so that puts my earliest return date to May. I'm pissed. If I owe them I have to pay intrest on every dime I'm late on paying...ugh

Megan

Yep, same as everyone else. I filed mine in January using TurboTax. I'm single with no children, so my taxes are usually very easy. Turbotax said it was accepted pretty fast. Now, according to the "Where's my Refund" app, it's been "processing" for two months now. It's pretty frustrating.

Shay Wilson

I filed on February 1st using turbotax and still nothing. No letter, nothing. I am over it.

Jeremy

Everyone who wants to blame Trump can actually blame Obama. Sorry Liberals. The delays are due to the PATH Act that was passed in 2015. So, do your homework before looking like an idiot placing blame on the wrong person.

cris

Same thing...used turbotax... filed and accepted Jan 29 th and nothing ..I am a single mom and work two jobs and was counting on my return for so many bills! I finally received my state my mail but no one in all the calls I've made can explain the federal delay, I got a letter the 23rd of feb but it gives little info only that its under review and on my 'wheres my refund site" i also get the 152 code

Pebbles

I have also been dealt the same hand then told me that I will receive a letter in one to Two weeks and still no letter I believe this is substantial bullshit.

Shameeka

I FILED ALSO AND EXCEPTED ON THE 31ST OF JAN , I WAS ALSO TOLD AFTER FEB 27TH THAT FEB 15TH I was selected for further review , received a letter a wk later saying that I was selected for review an ,if they needed more info they will contact me. That was the last wk of feb , it's almost April and I have not received anything....I also have files the same way for the past 6 yrs after moving back home to Mass. I have NEVER had any issues with my taxes until I moves back here , I thought I was the only one that didn't receive my Fed. I got my state taxes of 2016 this year , so I was surprised that I got 2017 so early but they shorted me 368. Saying it was a EIC or AIC issue of over payment so I still got screwed by the state taxes. But I've never had issues with fed. I wonder if all those that called was suddenly picked as we called in and those whom didn't call got theirs. But I'm so sure that there's not too many whom received both , either u got the state and not the fed, or u got the federal and not the state , What ever the case I'm not sure what's going on , but as on 3/24/18 I still have not received my fed. Smdh

James C Nicholas

You know Trump has screwed all of us from the IRS to every branch of the government.This is what happens when you put a Moron in charge.

jamie battles

I will never use turbo tax again and i will not file early. Those two reasons are why your taxes are late. All the fraud is online and we all filed online. No one I talked to who filed by regular mail had any issue.

Michael

I have had the same thing happen to me. I used a certified public accountant. After reading these post and seeing the same information on WMR, leads me to believe maybe the IRS is playing games with the average American. How can refund speeds change in one year?

Mastewart2018

filed 1/29/2018 believing I was doing the right thing by getting it over with early. bad mistake. although seeing people get their DDD puts a smile on my face. Nothing like seeing everyone around you get the BIG BUCKS while all I see is WAMMYS!!! great... I haven't called IRS because I'm not a sit on the phone and wait type of person. My frustrations are the reason I'm LOCKED out of WMR as of right now. NICE!

Jeremy

Yeah I got the letter too. Didn’t ask for anything. Just that I’ve been selected due to one of a few listed reasons. I filed with an EITC so I know that’s why. Said something about 60 days from date of letter which will be mid-May. The whole thing is ridiculous. They can hold my money but they take what’s there’s under no certain terms.

Samantha

Did anyone Evee receive the letter if so what did the letter ask for?

Nate

I filed january 29th and got accepted the same day but about two weeks after tracking"wheres my refund" the app said "there has been a delay in prossessing" with a number and an ext. So i called and they had no reason why but for me to wait 45 days for them to "REVIEW" my return -.- okay so i waited well about a week later i get a letter saying to wait 60 days to REVIEW my return -.- WTFF DUDE!! Noo ryhme or reason in the letter it says we may send the return if applicable?? What is that supposed to mean just because i claimed ACTC and EITC

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