What Causes Delays in the IRS' Approval of Electronic Tax Returns?

by Leigh Thompson, Demand Media
    The IRS routinely rejects tax returns that contain inaccurate or omitted information.

    The IRS routinely rejects tax returns that contain inaccurate or omitted information.

    Every spring, young couples gather their tax documents to file taxes and get that coveted refund check. The IRS issues tax refunds based on a tentative schedule they release in early January. Simply filing your tax return according to their schedule does not mean you get your refund exactly on time. Several factors influence how long it takes the IRS to approve your electronic tax return and issue your refund.

    Rejected Returns

    The IRS rejects returns that contain typos, omitted information or mismatch errors. Simply entering your Social Security number incorrectly results in a denial of your tax return. Rejected returns cause a delay in the IRS approval process. Mismatch errors occur when you enter information into your tax return that does not match information the IRS already has from the Social Security Administration such as dates of birth, Social Security numbers and names. You also cannot claim a person or dependent if that person is already claimed on another tax return. Rejected tax returns generate an error code alerting you to what information was denied. Quickly fix any errors and resubmit to get your refund.

    Critical Reviews

    As part of the IRS' fraud protection, tax returns undergo critical reviews to make sure there are no erroneous or fraudulent tax refunds issued. The IRS uses fraud-protection safeguards such as a personal PIN and your previous year's adjusted gross income to ensure the person filing the return is authorized to do so. Your legitimate tax return may get caught up in the critical review process as an IRS representative reviews your application for errors and fraud before processing it.

    System Errors & Updates

    Every spring the IRS' technology systems are put through their paces as millions of taxpayers file their returns. Like all software and hardware systems, some technical glitches may slow or delay the processing of tax returns. The IRS frequently updates their systems to ensure it works smoothly and efficiently but this, in turn, may cause small delays in processing your tax return.

    Tracking Your Return

    The IRS provides the "Where's My Refund" tool on its website to keep track of your tax return and refund, if applicable. You enter your Social Security number, filing status and expected refund amount and the IRS displays whether your return is being processed or if it is complete. You may also call the IRS at 800-829-1954 to get the status of your tax return.

    About the Author

    Leigh Thompson began writing in 2007 and specializes in creating content for websites. She has been published online in various capacities. Thompson has an associate degree in information technology from the University of Kansas and is working on a bachelor's degree in business and personal finance.

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