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Taxes 2022: How to check on your refund amid IRS backlog

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Chris Cicalese, a CPA with Alloy Silverstein, sits down with Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the IRS tax return backlog, timeline for tax refunds, and how to apply for a refund online.

Video Transcript

- Welcome back. April 18 is the deadline for filing taxes in the US this year. But if you wait until the last minute, you wouldn't be the only one running behind. The IRS is working through an exceptionally large backlog that could delay refund issuance this year. Here to discuss this and more is Chris Ciccalese MSTFP and Alloy Silverstein associate partner as part of our Taxes Made Simple series presented by Tax Act. Chris, thanks for joining us this afternoon. Give us a snapshot of where we are right now in tax season. What does the backlog look like for the IRS? And how does this compare to previous years?

CHRIS CICCALESE: All right. So in reality, it's not really that much different from previous years. The main cause for the backup really kind of is COVID. But the IRS itself has always been a little backed up, where they haven't really got things out as quickly as they possibly could. So in the past two weeks, the IRS did come out and say that regular 1040s, they have about 7 million backlogged. And they came out and said that on March 11. And then for amended returns, which would be the 1040X, they have about 2.2 million backlogged.

So the main issue with that really is that for COVID, they had the furloughs, so they didn't have people out there that were able to process the returns. And what happens is with a lot of returns, they actually need to process things by hand, such as some of the earned income tax credits, some of the new credits that they have out in order to try to combat fraud that will actually, sometimes, they'll process the return real quick. And they'll issue the refund.

But then they'll have to come back and they'll double check it with the math, or the computer will double check it. And the computer will then spit out an automated notice. And then you'll have to go through the process of trying to correct whatever the IRS thinks may or may not be incorrect.

- So Chris, if you're someone waiting for a refund, how long is too long? What do you suggest people do when they're waiting and want to check in on their status?

CHRIS CICCALESE: So if someone filed a return-- so for a lot of our clients that we've seen, depending on the difficulty of the return, for most people, it's just a normal return where it's a W-2 and then some interest income or anything that's what you would consider to be normal. The refund times aren't really that bad.

What happens is if you filed too quickly and you didn't wait for all your 1099s or you didn't wait for all your W-2s, you may have forgot that you had to W-2s for the year instead of one because you switched jobs. Or you got a 1099 super late only because you forgot about it. So people like that, you might not get a refund because what happens when you file is the IRS is going to get all the 1099s, they're going to get all the W-2s, and that goes into the computer system. Once it's in the computer system and you actually file, they're going to go and check, hey, does this person's return that they filed matched the computer system?

So what will happen is you can file your return. And then if you don't see something in a couple of weeks, what you do is you go on to the Where's My Refund. And from there, you put in your information for the current return. Or if you're looking for a prior return that might still be in the backlog, you can try to search for the 2020. You've got to have your information there so you can do the Where's My Refund. And then it will tell you if it was received, if it's processed, when the anticipation of the refund will come out.

Or you can also go on to the IRS website and make a irs.gov account. And you can actually look at all your filings to see the status, which I, personally, I've seen some clients, we filed a return, and it doesn't show up in the IRS status account for a while, which is partially because of the backlog. So if you file by paper, you should expect a little bit of time before you get a refund. But if you file electronically, that is way faster. And that's the ideal way to file returns this year and, really, every year you should try to file electronically if possible.

- All right. We'll leave it there for now. Chris Ciccalese is MSTFP and Alloy Silverstein associate partner. And we thank you again so much for your time.