Why Your Tax Refund May Be Delayed in 2022

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KEY POINTS

  • It may take longer to get your tax refund this year thanks to a backlog.
  • If you're relying on your refund to pay near-term bills, there are steps you can take to compensate.


You may have to wait longer than usual to get your money.

For many people, a tax refund serves as bonus cash -- money they can use for leisure purposes like vacations. Other people might take their tax refunds and put that money directly into their savings accounts. But if you've been struggling to make ends meet in light of higher living costs, you may be depending heavily on your tax refund to get by.

Unfortunately, you may end up waiting longer than usual for your money this year. The IRS is facing a massive backlog of tax returns from 2021 it has yet to get through. If you file a paper return this year, you could end up experiencing a refund delay. While filing your taxes electronically should result in a faster turnaround, even electronic returns may get delayed.

If you can't afford to wait weeks for your tax refund because you need that money ASAP, here are some near-term steps you can take to tide yourself over.

1. Slash your spending temporarily

It's not reasonable to cut out everything from cable to the occasional cup of store-bought coffee on a long-term basis. Doing so is apt to make you utterly miserable. But if you're relying on your tax refund to pay your basic bills, cutting those expenses for a few weeks may be doable. If you go that route, you might avoid having to charge your bills on credit cards and accruing interest on those balances.

2. Push yourself to get a side hustle

If you work full-time and have children, parents, pets, or a household to take care of, you may not have time in your schedule to go out and get a second job. But if you're truly in a financial crunch in the absence of your tax refund, then it could pay to pick up a second gig on a temporary basis -- just until that refund hits your bank account. If you're really pressed for time, try finding a role that you can at least do on your own schedule, whether it's data entry work from home or driving for a ride-hailing company.

3. Fall back on a 0% interest credit card

Carrying a credit card balance generally isn't ideal. But if you happen to have a credit card with a 0% introductory rate, you can consider charging your near-term expenses on it and paying your balance off once your refund arrives. Just pay attention to when your introductory period expires so you don't wind up accruing interest needlessly.

Tax refund delays can upend your finances, and this year, they may be more widespread than usual. If you're worried about a delay in your tax refund, do your best to complete your tax return as soon as you can. At the same time, be sure to file your return electronically. Not only do electronic returns have faster processing times, but when you go this route, you may be less likely to make a mistake. That could, in turn, prevent your refund from getting held up while the IRS attempts to reconcile your error.

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