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Your tax refund may be coming late this year—here's why

Still waiting on your tax return? Here are some reasons why your payment could be delayed longer than normal and how you can track the status of your refund.

WASHINGTON — As Tax Day approaches, the IRS is reminding filers about the most common reasons for why it may take longer than expected to get their refunds

The IRS has repeatedly said most federal refunds are issued within three weeks for those who file electronically and choose direct deposit. 

But the agency stressed Thursday that some payments may take longer than 21 days and "taxpayers shouldn't rely on getting a refund by a certain date."

The Internal Revenue Service said Thursday one reason is that "some returns have errors or need more review and may take longer to process." 

What can delay getting your tax refund?

The IRS is urging filers to double-check their taxes before submitting them, because any issues could delay them being filed. 

Specifically, delays can happen if the return has errors, is incomplete, or if the filer is affected by identity theft or fraud. 

It's also possible for a return to get delayed if the 2021 child tax credit or recovery rebate credit aren't accounted for. 

RELATED: Yes, you need to claim the child tax credit on your 2021 return, even if you got advance payments

Other, more niche claims on a tax return could impact the return date as well. 

Despite this year's tax season starting on Jan. 24, earlier than usual, the "great resignation" of employees across the U.S. has left the IRS with a shortage of workers. At the start of tax season, around 200 open positions were listed on the IRS recruiting website. That number remains about the same as of April 7. 

Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union that represents IRS workers, said the agency “has a hard time recruiting because they’re up against Burger King or McDonald’s,” which offer similar pay without requiring workers to “deal with confusing rules and regulations.”

How can I track my tax return? 

To check the status of your tax refund, you can use the IRS Where's My Refund? tool. The online portal becomes available 24 hours after a return is filed electronically. Anybody who filed paper forms should wait up to four weeks before checking the online tool. 

If you filed electronically and haven't heard anything in at least 21 days or filed by mail and it's been at least six weeks, IRS representatives on the phone or at Taxpayer Assistance Centers can help research your refund status. 

Representatives at various taxpayer assistance centers can be contacted after these time periods elapse, and numbers for the call centers are available in the Where's My Refund? portal. 

When is the tax deadline? When is tax day?

The usual deadline to file your taxes is April 15, but it's pushed back when it falls on a weekend or holiday.

So this year, Tax Day is actually Monday, April 18. 

That's because Emancipation Day, April 16, falls on a Saturday, so it's being observed in Washington, D.C., on April 15 this year. Because April 15 is a legal holiday in D.C., the tax return deadline can't be then. 

While the Monday due date might give you a sigh of relief, it doesn't mean to wait. 

The IRS says it is still working through tax forms from 2020, when they processed more than 240 million returns. Experts expect the delays this year to stretch for weeks, if not months, for many Americans.

That is especially true for those who file at the last minute, because those returns typically get processed last. 

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