Will My Refund Be Delayed or Late This Year?

Since the IRS has added security measures for filing of tax returns to decrease tax fraud, your refund may be delayed. Starting this tax season, the IRS requires online tax websites to add identity verification steps to ensure that the taxpayer filing their return is exactly who they say they are (i.e. security questions/answers, stronger passwords, etc). As a result of these new security measures, the IRS may issue more refunds as paper check, even if taxpayers requested direct deposit.

What If My Refund Is Lower Than I Expected? – Refund Offsets

After the submission of your income tax return you notice the refund amount is different than originally calculated, your return was either offset utilizing the T.O.P. or adjusted by IRS. In either case, the IRS will send communication by US postal mail informing you of the change. The Program is run by the Financial Management Services (FMS). Under TOP, various federal and state government agencies are authorized to seize outstanding federal or state debts from federal tax refunds. Contact the Treasury Offset Program at 800.304.3107 more information.

The FMS may offset part or all of your federal tax refund to pay:

  • Unpaid child support
  • Federal non-tax debts (including student loan repayments)
  • State income tax debts
  • State unemployment compensation debts

For more information on the Treasury Offset Program, see here.

When Does an Offset Occur and Will It Delay My Refund?

An offset for non-tax debts occur after the IRS verified your refund to FMS for payment, but before FMS direct deposits the refund or mails a paper check to you. Though an offset reduces the amount of your expected refund via direct deposit or check, it does not delay the time you will receive the remaining refund (if any) after the offset.

What Can I Do Before Filing My Tax Return If I Know I Have Past Debt?

If you have non-tax debts, you can contact the agency you owe. That way, you can determine if the agency submitted your debts to for refund offset. Please be aware that the system updates daily.

I Don’t Believe I Owe the Tax Debt. How Can I Dispute the Offset?

You will need to contact the agency that received the offset part of your refund, not the IRS or FMS. The notice will include instructions on how to contact the appropriate agency or agencies.

Injured Spouse Allocation

If you are planning to file a joint tax return and concern with your spouse’s Federal or State debt. You may elect to be excluded from the spouse’s debt under the Injured Spouse rule. This rule applies if your spouse is solely responsible for the debt. File Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, to request your portion of the refund.

Please note if there is prior obligated debt for the spouse, the portion of refund due to the spouse will be offset to satisfy the debt owed.​

IRS Identity Protection Personal Identification Number

If you have been a victim of or simply wanting identity protection when filing your income tax return. An Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) should be acquired. The IRS IP PIN is a 6-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to help prevent the misuse of their Social Security number on fraudulent federal income tax returns. This IP PIN is furnished annually by the IRS.​

For more information on the IRS IP Pin see here.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

ITIN’s are issued to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but, are not eligible or do not possess a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). An ITIN is required for eligible taxpayers to comply with U.S. tax laws and account for tax return and payments for individuals not eligible for SSN. ITIN are issued regardless of immigration status, both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code. Please not ITIN’s do not serve any purpose other than federal tax reporting per the IRS.

See IRS ITIN FAQs here.