What Could Delay a Federal Tax Return Refund?

Enter all information correctly on your tax forms to ensure timely refunds. According to the IRS document "2012 Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions," the IRS has improved its technologies and will process more refunds this year in as little as 10 days, with more than 90 percent of its refunds issued within 21 days. Given the volume of tax returns filed, this is a large task. In some cases, a refund may be delayed. By filing an accurate tax return, you can help ensure that your refund check arrives as soon as possible.

Incorrect Information

Incorrect information slows down the processing of your tax return, as well as any refund that you are due. Enter all Social Security numbers correctly and double-check them. Make sure that your address on the return is correct, particularly if you are receiving your refund by mail. Make sure all last names are correct according to the person's Social Security card, and double-check your bank account numbers for a direct-deposited tax refund.

Math Errors

While the IRS usually corrects any basic math errors that you make, it will require extra attention and take more time. Use the tax tables to calculate your tax correctly and look at the numbers carefully. Add all of the numbers for your itemized deductions carefully as well as all adjustments to income. Make sure that your exemption amount is correct by multiplying the total number of exemptions by the yearly exemption amount. Accurately calculate the adjustments for being over age 65 and/or blind. Also, consider filing electronically or using software to reduce math errors.

Insufficient Documentation

Specific documentation to support certain types of income and deductions may not have to be included with your return. However, the IRS requires other forms of paperwork be sent in. You must attach your W-2 forms outlining your wages. If you are claiming a substantial refundable credit, such as the adoption tax credit, you must send in all required documentation for that credit. Adoption tax credits are subject to extra review and can be expedited by including an adoption certificate and all other required documentation.

Fraud Detection

Internal Revenue Service fraud detection activities may slow down your return processing and refund. This does not mean the IRS suspects your return is fraudulent, but if some of your information fits a certain profile, your return may be held for additional examination by a human instead of a computer. The IRS wants to be certain that legitimate refunds make it to the people that should have them and occasionally will take longer to do this.