HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Fewer IRS workers, and more filers could mean delays for Americans waiting for their 2021 tax return.
IRS OPENS 2021 TAX RETURN SEASON EARLIER THAN LAST YEAR
On Monday, Jan. 24, the IRS started to take 2021 tax returns, which is weeks earlier than the filing date for 2021.
In 2021, Americans had to wait until Feb. 12 to file a return. Ahead of this year's return, the IRS is warning there could be delays. Transparency CPA, Ed Gardner said this is a good thing.
"The commissioner is trying to come out front with that," Gardner said. "Of course, like I said the '20 and '19 returns there's been big delays and it's caused a lot of issues where people have gotten frustrated."
SEE ALSO: Taxpayers, brace yourselves: Tax filing season starts amid IRS crisis, COVID-related complications
You'll also have more time to file taxes this year. Normally, the deadline is April 15, but this year that deadline is April 18, because of a holiday in Washington D.C.
HERE'S WHY IT MIGHT TAKE LONGER TO GET A REFUND THIS YEAR
Since 2010, the IRS said its workforce has shrunk by 17%. The amount of filers has increased by 19%.
The agency is also juggling stimulus checks and the child tax credit, which increased and distributed earlier than before in monthly payments.
The IRS said if you file electronically, the majority of Americans should receive a refund in three weeks. But Gardner said he isn't so sure.
"I think they're going to do everything they can in 21 days, but I think we're still going to see a lot of delays," Gardner explained.
To avoid issues making the delay longer, the IRS recommends electronic filing and making sure you don't need to make changes after the return is submitted.
IF YOU'RE A PARENT, RECEIVED UNEMPLOYMENT, OR STARTED A BUSINESS, EXPECT CHANGES THIS TAX SEASON
The biggest change for parents is with the child tax credit. In 2021, Congress increased the amount parents receive per child, and allowed them to get half of the credit in monthly payments.
The IRS sent letters to parents with the amount received. Gardner said there's a section on tax forms in 2021 for parents to insert the number.
SEE ALSO: 5 tax changes that can boost your refund this year
The increased child tax credit appears here to stay, but the monthly payments won't be back later this year, Gardner said.
"That's supposed to be there for the future, but to get the advanced payment, Congress has not enacted for people to get the advanced payment," Gardner explained.
To help people who lost jobs in 2020 due to the pandemic, Congress allowed Americans to not write off a portion of unemployment taxes. This year, that's not the case.
There are also millions of Americans quitting jobs in record numbers. Many of them started businesses. If you're one of them, Gardner suggests working with a tax professional.
"If you're not familiar with what you're eligible for, you may short yourself by not deducting all the expenses that you could take," Gardner said.
HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE TO FILE YOUR 2021 TAX RETURN
Before you file your return, Gardner suggests locating your previous return. This way, you can look at what was on it, and compare it to this year's return.
Also, as of December, the IRS said there's a backlog of six million individual returns. Gardner said if you're still waiting, you could contact the IRS at 800-829-1954. He suggests calling between 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Calling may not always be the best, as Gardner said the IRS only answers about 8% of the calls. There's an online tracker where you can view refunds, but you need to have certain information, including your social security number, filing status, and exact refund amount.
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You can file taxes earlier, but it may take more time to get a refund
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