“When can I expect to receive my refund?” is the most frequently asked question of a tax preparer. This year your tax preparer may not be able to give you an answer. The IRS is not producing a 2013 IRS e-file refund cycle chart for tax preparers to answer the question. The commonly used chart has been discontinued and Publication 2043 has been dramatically revised due to IRS uncertainty about issuing refunds. The IRS states “In a change from previous filing seasons, taxpayers won’t get an estimated refund date right away.” From a customer service standpoint, this presents a problem in managing your clients expectations. The IRS states that “most taxpayers will have their refunds within 23 days”, a significant delay from recent years.
The delay in issuing refunds is due to a new processing method with an emphasis on fraud. The IRS’s new processing method includes multiple fraud checks based on the information in your tax return. Tax returns will be analyzed for what the IRS calls “Incoming transactions” and placed in a different category for funding. The IRS has not stated what denotes an incoming transaction but it could be anything from a change in dependents to a change in address. “The IRS has fraud filters built into their new system and they don’t truly know what category the tax returns will fall into based on the filters in place at the time of review and how many returns are going to be delayed. Those filters could change throughout the tax season” says Joseph Mahaffey, CPA. “The IRS’s priority has shifted from getting you your refund quickly to fraud prevention and identity theft.”