I am forced to believe that not many taxpayers are aware, nor do they care, that IRS may take up to 21 business days to process tax returns. Many impatient taxpayers find themselves asking their tax professionals to provide daily updates regarding the status of their return and refund.
For nearly the past decade, the IRS has changed it’s processing time from 7-14 days to up to 21 days. That is if you decided to file electronically (aka E-file). Those that are ineligible for electronic filing may have to wait up to 28 days before the return is processed.
There are several reasons a taxpayer may become ineligible to electronically file their return, and have to resort to the old fashion method, a paper tax return. A paper tax return is one filed using a printed copy of Form 1040. The tax preparer is not required to calculate amounts manually, as nearly all tax preparation programs allow taxpayers to print a copy. Some examples of tax situations requiring a paper return included, but are not limited to, the following: injured spouse, identity theft, and/or amended return. There are cases when a non-custodial parent will claim a dependent before the custodial parent. In such cases, the parent with the right to claim the dependent will have to file a paper tax return and provide substantial documentation to the IRS proving guardianship.
Taxpayers that find it challenging to wait up to 21 days (which is unbelievable considering we all have waited a year to file again!) can apply for a refund advance with participating tax businesses. Beware of the associated costs and fees, for it can cost up to $200-500 to take an advance on your tax refund.