Ask SAM: I haven’t received my federal tax refund yet, why? | Local News
Q: We filed our joint federal paper tax return in February of this year. When I go online to verify our return, it gives no information as to why we did not receive our refund of $1332.66. I also tried calling to no avail. August is almost over. Do you have any information on why it’s taking so long?
Answer: The IRS will not discuss individual taxpayer issues, but according to the IRS website, most people who file electronically receive their refund within 21 calendar days. People filing on paper can expect it to take six months or more before their return is processed and a refund issued.
Erin Collins, the national taxpayers’ advocate, said in her mid-year report to Congress recently that the IRS had about 21.3 million paper tax returns pending processing at the end of May.
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“The IRS has said it aims to crush pending inventory this year, and hopefully it will be successful,” Collins wrote. “Unfortunately, at this point, the backlog is still overwhelming the IRS, its employees, and most importantly, taxpayers. As such, the agency continues to explore additional processing strategies.”
It comes down to not having enough staff to process returns in a timely manner.
IRS spokesperson Stacy Engle told SAM, “The IRS understands the importance of processing tax returns and issuing refunds quickly. We continue to redirect tax returns and taxpayer correspondence from locations that are late to locations where more staff are available, and we are taking other steps to minimize delays. Tax returns are opened and processed in the order received.
Q: I recently bought less than $20 worth of gas with my credit/debit card at an Exxon station. My card has $175.00 pending for this purchase. I normally get BP but it was cheaper, never happened before. What is happening?
Answer: This is called a pre-authorization and gas stations do it to prevent fraud. Here’s an explanation from a recent AARP magazine article about the practice.
“If you use a credit or debit card for payment, you might be shocked to learn that a pre-authorization amount is placed on your credit or debit card. This is common practice at gas stations, but not well known to many consumers.
The gas station owner wants to make sure there is enough money in the account to cover the transaction because by swiping your card before pumping gas he doesn’t know if you can pay the gas essence.
“A gas station could place a hold of $50 when authorizing your card purchase for $20 worth of gas. With gas prices up 46% in the past year, the hold could be even higher. Gas stations want to make it as easy as possible for you to refuel. If they set the holdback too low, you may have to make more than one transaction to fill up, which could lead to frustration .
“It is important to note that while gas stations set the pre-authorization amount, card issuers determine how long your account will be held. Detention can last up to 72 hours,” according to the article.
To avoid the hold, you can pay in cash. Or pay inside and enter the debit card PIN, the hold should be released once the transaction is complete.
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Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101