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Good Question: Where’s The Tax Refund?

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
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By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Most of us have already filed our taxes, and many have already received our income tax refunds from the state and the federal government. However, many are still waiting, so where’s their refund?

“In years past, I’ve always gotten it right away,” said Courtney Shutes, a Woodbury resident. “Four or 5 days tops.”

But it’s been two weeks since she mailed in her return. According to the State of Minnesota’s website, Shute won’t get her refund for awhile.

“The website was saying at least 4 weeks, maybe 8. I thought that couldn’t be true,” she said, so she called the state, “and they told me the same thing. I was shocked!”

WCCO-TV web producer Jeff Wald is experiencing the same frustration.

“We filed our return six weeks ago. We have not seen a dime yet,” said Wald.

Wald and his wife filed electronically, which makes them even more confused about the delay.

“It’s crazy, frustrating, maddening. It makes me want to tear my hair out,” he said.

According to the IRS, as of April 9, the federal government had received nearly 3 million tax returns, they hadn’t processed. And that’s nine days before the April 18 deadline.

The IRS tells us that typically, the later you send in your return, the longer you have to wait.

One reason for the delays with 2011 returns: the U.S. Congress passed a bunch of changes to tax law in December. It took the IRS until Feb. 14 to get those changes into their systems. People who itemized their deductions could not submit their tax returns until after mid-February.

Plus, the IRS had a glitch in processing returns from people who bought a new home in 2008, took a credit, and had to start paying back that credit this year. According to the government, that affects a “small percentage” of filers.

If you file electronically, generally you’ll get your refund quicker, because no one has to manually scan in your form. Jeff Wald did e-file, but he said he had to make a correction after he filed the initial form. According to the IRS, corrected and amended returns can take up to 4 months to process.

“I always get a new Easter dress, it’s my big splurge,” said Schutes, who noted she didn’t expect to get that tax refund Easter dress money in time for Saturday’s planned shopping.

But Schutes sent her return through the regular mail. The state and the feds are so backed up at the last minute, they’re saying it could take 90 days!

“I’ve been paying my taxes all year, to wait even more is aggravating,” she said.

According to the Minnesota Office of Management and Budget, there are about 180 employees working on processing tax returns, but the state expects 3 million individual returns in any given year.

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