It's tax season, if that isn't already painfully clear. If you haven't already filed your federal returns, you know you're in for a slog. You'll have pages of forms to fill out. You'll be digging around for receipts and, hopefully, you won't have to call the IRS for help. You could be listening to hold music for hours.
So, the one glimmer of happiness for many taxpayers is your tax refund. Whether it's $10 that you use on a movie ticket or $5,000 you use to buy a car, it'll be a treat when you get it.
Unfortunately, there's a serious delay at the IRS that could derail your refund for weeks. The culprit? The surge in ID theft at the IRS that we've been telling you about. Simply, criminals and organized crime rings are stealing taxpayer IDs to file fraudulent tax returns, to claim your tax refund.
The IRS has made some valiant efforts to prevent tax fraud, including providing ID theft victims with a special number, an IP PIN (identity protection personal identification number). Unfortunately, the ID of at least one person given the IRS's IP PIN this year was used to file a fraudulent return.
So, the IRS is slowing down its processes, a lot. By some estimates, the IRS is taking three times longer to process returns than they did last year. Meaning, it could take weeks instead of days for you to get your refund.
Note: In 2015, the IRS blocked 1.4 million fraudulent tax returns that would've amounted to $8.7 billion in stolen tax returns.
You'll likely also see delays with your state tax refund. Many states have added security measures to their processes, to screen for fraudulent returns. In some cases, states are also sending paper checks to taxpayers, to ensure the correct person deposits it, rather than automatically depositing it to your bank account.