Are you the type who files your taxes the first day of tax season? If so, you’re probably used to being among the first of your friends to get your tax refund. Lucky. (Seriously, who are you super efficient people?)
Well, if you’re ready to start stalking your mailbox, you might have to sit tight a little longer than usual. Your refund may be delayed this year — but blame the IRS, not your mail carrier.
Tax filing season begins Jan. 23 this year, so some people could theoretically have their refund in hand around the first week of February, especially if you file electronically and bypass the Postal Service.
Unfortunately, if you’re claiming the earned income credit or additional child tax credit, you can expect your refund to be delayed until the week of Feb. 27.
The IRS says that tax refund delays are likely for these filers because of a new law designed to protect taxpayers from fraud and identity theft takes effect this tax season. It gives the IRS some extra time to double-check returns for shenanigans that cost the agency an estimated $5.8 billion in 2013.
The tax refund delay is expected to impact around 40 million low-income families across the country.
Where’s My Refund?
In an ideal world, a delayed refund would be a mere hiccup for taxpayers.
The reality is, though, a lot of families rely on it to pay down outstanding bills or make necessary purchases they’ve been putting off.
If you’re really in a jam, a few of the major tax preparation outfits like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt offer refund advances — in exchange for doing your taxes, of course.
I’ve heard from my social circle that some people pre-spend their tax refund on fun things before they actually have their money in hand. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you charging expensive new kicks to your credit card in anticipation of a hefty tax return is kind of a recipe for disaster.
There’s no rule saying you can’t use your refund to splurge on something new, but wait until you’ve got the money in your bank account — even if it means being patient for a few extra weeks.
Not sure what to do with your tax refund once you receive it? Here are some smart ways you can spend $100.
Your Turn: Will the tax refund delay affect you this year?
Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She doesn’t love taxes, but she does like Twitter, so go look her up @lisah and say hi.