Your tax refund is delayed? It could come down to bad math

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Sometimes all it takes is one simple mistake to not receive your refund.


Key points

  • Mathematical errors on tax returns could lead to tax refund delays.
  • There are steps you can take to reduce your chances of making a mistake when filing your tax returns.

The 2022 tax filing season has been underway since late January. Some people may, inevitably, file their return at the last minute. But if you submitted your 2021 taxes (these are the returns you file this year) in late January or during the first half of February, you might be wondering why your refund hasn’t reached your bank account yet.

There are different reasons for a delay in your tax refund. For one, if you submit the wrong bank details, the payment sent by the IRS will be rejected. The IRS will then have to reconcile that wrong payment and figure out how to send your money, which means you won’t see it as quickly.

But in some cases, an error on your tax return could be the reason for delaying your refund. And for many filers, that mistake could come down to bad math.

Are math errors delaying your refund?

The IRS typically issues tax refunds for electronically filed tax returns within three weeks of receiving them. The processing time for paper returns is usually twice as long, around six weeks. But these are only general guidelines. Errors in your tax return could lead to a significant delay in reimbursement.

Last year, the IRS sent 7.4 million math error notices to filers in the first seven months of the year regarding issues with stimulus payments. To be clear, these errors were not necessarily made by the filers themselves.

The fact, however, is that this year’s tax season opens the door to a host of potential math errors. This is because filers will have to individually reconcile their Child Tax Credit stimulus and advance payments to know which refund to claim. If these numbers are wrong, it could lead to many rejected returns and many delayed refunds.

Now, generally, the IRS will attempt to correct mathematical errors on its own rather than rejecting a return outright. But if the volume of those errors is excessive this year, the agency may need to reject the filers and place that burden on filers instead.

How to avoid miscalculations on your taxes

As humans, it’s easy to get even a basic calculation wrong. But getting your taxes wrong could have aggravating consequences, like falling behind on the big pile of cash you’re hoping to get your hands on as soon as possible.

However, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of miscalculating your taxes. First, file electronically rather than on paper. Today’s tax software does a great job of detecting things like incorrect addition or subtraction.

That said, if you enter the wrong data, the software you are using may not detect an error. If you’re worried about making a mistake on your return — especially when it comes to reconciling a stimulus package or child tax credit payment — then it might be beneficial to hire a tax preparer. This year.

Although you can spend a little money to hire a professional, that person could also be successful in realizing additional tax savings that you would not have identified yourself. Equally important, calling in a professional could save you the headaches that could come with a rejected return – and a delay in getting the lump sum you really need.

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