With the COVID-19 crisis occupying so much of the news, it's easy to let a matter like taxes fall by the wayside, especially since the IRS pushed back the filing deadline for 2019 returns to July 15, 2020. That means you have close to two months to deal with your tax return, and if you're grappling with unemployment, reduced working hours, or the balancing act of working while caring for children, you may be grateful for that delay.

On the other hand, if you're in a tough spot financially right now and could use extra money, filing your taxes as quickly as possible makes a lot more sense if you think you're due a refund. So far, the average refund this year is $2,779, up $50 from 2019. If you normally get a refund from the IRS, it pays to get moving on your taxes -- especially if you're desperate to get your hands on extra cash.

Two hands counting hundred dollar bills.


Submit that return immediately

Though many Americans have already seen their $1,200 stimulus payments hit their bank accounts, many recipients were quick to blow through that cash in the course of paying their bills. But if the refund you're due is anything like the average refund that's been issued so far, you could be looking at more than twice your stimulus payment within weeks of submitting your taxes.

That's why it makes sense to file your 2019 return as soon as you can. Not only will getting your taxes done take one potentially stressful and time-consuming task off your plate, but it could help you avoid a scenario where you're forced to rack up debt in the course of paying for essential expenses.

How long will your refund take?

Normally, refunds for electronically filed tax returns take about three weeks to hit your bank account, assuming you sign up for direct deposit. But initial data shows that refunds are taking longer to process this year, so the sooner you get your taxes done, the sooner you can expect that money.

If you're filing a paper return, however, your refund could be delayed for months. The reason? The IRS isn't operating at normal capacity right now due to COVID-19, and as such, the agency has been unable to process paper returns. We don't know when standard operations will resume, so your best bet right now is to file electronically, even if you're used to submitting a paper return. Not only will you get your refund much faster, but it'll also reduce your chances of making a mistake.

A lot of people are having a hard time making ends meet right now. If that's the boat you're in and you haven't yet filed your taxes, carve out some time to get them done. In a best-case scenario, you'll get your refund sooner. And if it turns out you owe money, you won't have to pay the IRS until July 15, even if you submit your return tomorrow.

The majority of tax filers who submit returns wind up with a refund, but if you're in the minority, knowing what you owe will help you plan for that bill so it's not overwhelmingly stressful during an already trying time.