HOUSTON — Why could your tax return be delayed this year?
The short answer is the Internal Revenue Service is dealing with a serious backlog.
According to The Washington Post, the agency has still not processed 24 million tax returns from the previous year with some refunds delayed by up to ten months or more. And those delays can have serious consequences since many households rely on that money for living expenses.
Now a new tax season has started while it is still trying to catch up with that existing backlog.
So why is the IRS so behind?
Experts say the agency is critically underfunded. The congressional budget office says funding for the IRS has fallen 20 percent since 2010 when adjusted for inflation. It has also lost more than 22 percent of its workforce in that time.
The situation is so bad the agency had to scrap plans recently to close an Austin tax processing center. While the move would have saved it money the backlog is too big to lose the facility.
You can speed up your own return by filing electronically. The agency says taxpayers who skip the pen and paper have a better chance of their taxes being processed quickly. It also recommends using direct deposit for your return.
You will also want to check your forms carefully this year. Any discrepancy will mean it has to be manually reviewed, which could take weeks or months this time around.