'It's very frustrating': Steps to take when filing your 2021 taxes to avoid a delayed refund

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's tax time and while you can now file your 2021 taxes, there are millions of taxpayers still waiting for their 2020 refund.

Ebonie McDougal is one of those taxpayers and she says her refund for 2020 is more than $8,000.

"Put me in a bind, especially with me trying to get a car," said McDougal.

McDougal filed in April of 2021 but needed to file an amended return and did that in June of 2021.

"They (IRS) were like it would take 16 weeks; 16 weeks came in went and I started calling and so first they're like no we don't know what's going on, you know you just going to have to wait." McDougal said.

McDougal has been waiting ever since and her calls to the IRS and the taxpayer advocate haven't helped.

"It's very frustrating. I mean I know the IRS is behind, they don't have enough help, but it's just like you know, can you at least give me a time frame." McDougal added.

Besides waiting for her 2020 tax refund, McDougal also didn't get the advanced child tax credit for her four children since her return is still in limbo.

"It doesn't help when we know the money's coming, but it hasn't come yet." McDougal said.

ALERTS FOR THE IRS ABOUT FILING SEASON

The IRS admits there are millions of 2020 returns to still process.

Aradhana Aggarwal a CPA in Durham said: "The IRS has actually re-assigned 1,200 of their employees to handle that backlog."

Aggarwal says for 2021, to make sure your taxes don't get stuck in the backlog, there are steps you can take.

"It's very important that they don't make any mistakes in filing the return and reporting this child tax credit. Otherwise, they should expect some delays from IRS," said Aggarwal.

If you received the advanced child tax credit, you should have received the letter from the IRS, form 6419, which shows the amount you got.

While this amount should be correct, double-check it with your online IRS account.

"There are going to be a handful of cases where the 6419 would not represent the actual payments and those might be the cases where the taxpayer moved, or there are so let's say or the bank denied the direct deposit for the taxpayer so in those cases 6419 would not have the correct amount," Aggarwal said.

The IRS also used your 2020 tax return to calculate the advanced child tax credit so if you had a baby in 2021 or your income changed, it could affect the amount you are due, or also now owe the IRS.

As for stimulus money in 2021, you can claim it on your taxes if you didn't get it, but if you did get it, don't claim it again.

Another way to slow your return is if you don't file electronically.

"Don't file paper returns because IRS has millions and millions of returns that are actually that are still unopened and unprocessed returns. So, if you file the paper written returns, we just don't know when it's going to get processed," Aggarwal added.

If you file electronically, the IRS said it issues refunds in less than 21 days. We have heard from taxpayers who already received their federal 2021 refund just days after filing.

You can start tracking it 24 hours after filing, just go online to irs.gov, and check your refund status. Before filing your taxes whether it be electronically or mailing it in, triple check everything, especially if you're getting a refund and you want it direct deposit, make sure you have the right bank account information.
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