Usually, tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) come quickly but this year some people who filed will have to wait to get their money. However, according to John Koskinen, IRS Commissioner, the wait should be no longer than one week.
He added that because of budget cuts, there will be a longer waiting period to receive refunds and while he stated that the delay should only be one week, he added that in some cases it could take longer but as to how much longer, no information was provided. Koskinen also stated that individuals who have questions or need to address errors that typically take the IRS longer to review will also receive returns late.
Just last month, a $10.9 billion budget was approved by Congress, money for the IRS specific to fiscal year 2015. That budget ends in June and while it sounds like a lot, it is actually the lowest amount of funding approved in the past seven years. According to Koskinen, in addition to delayed tax returns, budget cuts will lead to a number of other changes within the IRS.
For example, because of budget cuts where will be fewer audits performed. With reduced enforcement staff, efforts to collect money from individuals and businesses will not be as robust as in prior years.
The IRS will also have a hiring freeze. This along with typical attrition rates, the agency will employ between 3,000 and 4,000 fewer full-time employees effective by the end of June. Taking into account the loss of employees from 2010 coupled with this new cut, there could be up to 17,000 fewer people working for the IRS over the next five years.
Taxpayers will also find it more difficult to get help in preparing taxes than before. Along with the delayed refunds, there will be less communication between the IRS and taxpayers, resulting in roughly 50% less taxpayers being able to reach someone at the IRS this year for assistance.
Although not yet confirmed, Koskinen hinted that if necessary, the IRS would shut down for two days after the current tax season. If the agency does close, it would be around June but he stressed that the closing would only be as a last ditch effort and that the IRS is doing everything possible to avoid this action.
Something else that has taxpayers concerned is that technologies used against identify theft could also experience delays. The bottom line, a poor tax season combined with long waits to get customer service and delays in receiving tax refunds are directly linked to the budget cuts.