Where’s my refund?!?

“When will I get my refund?”

This is one of the most popular questions people ask me.  It is also one of my least favorite questions because I can’t answer it.  (If you ask me this during the last few weeks of busy season when my hair is on fire, I will likely utter an obscenity and put your email in the “low priority” folder.)  Once I efile a return and the IRS accepts it, refund timing is out of my hands.  The IRS says 3-6 weeks, but sometimes it’s shorter or longer.

Help Me Help You

I have a solution for people who get a little impatient.  The IRS website has this handy tool called “Where’s My Refund?“.  You need some information found on your tax return, so have that handy when you go to the website.  It will give you the refund status and a projected disbursement date.  Easy-peasy and you don’t tick off your CPA.

Busy Season Wrap-Up

It’s now the evening of April 17th and I am pretty much done with tax busy season.  I even did my own extension.  I always forget that I am also a taxpayer and have this irritating tax filing obligation.  All I have left now are a few stragglers who haven’t returned a Form 8878 or 8879, the “permission slip” I need from my client before I can efile.  Unfortunately, this year I did not reach my goal of filing all my clients’ returns timely.  I had to file about 15 extensions, though the vast majority of them are mostly done and/or need to go through final review.  This year, many of my clients weren’t ready with their tax data until late March (or even early April).  When this happens, it puts me in a real bind because taxes aren’t the only one of my jobs that go into busy season in the spring.  I have 22 violin and viola students that need to be taught, opera starts up again, and Easter (and other) gigs roll in.  I simply run out of time.  When we have a 20 hour opera week, and I have to teach or deal with student issues for about 20 hours, that’s 40 hours before I touch a tax return.  I had a few weeks in March that were close to 60 hours before I even picked up a tax return.  Given the number of tax returns I have to prepare and the average number of hours for each return, I need about 120 hours to complete all these returns.  If I only have about five weeks to do all the returns (seriously I didn’t even get the first couple until the first week of March), that’s over 20 hours a week.  There aren’t enough hours in the day or enough brain cells in my head.  I finished as many as I could and had to get a little more time for the rest.

During tax season, I find it interesting how my clients react when I tell them they owe tax or they have a refund.  Some people completely freak out if I tell them they owe a certain amount (that’s so much!), while others are happy to owe the same (is that all?).  I have some who will never be happy with anything I tell them.  Any amount to owe is too much, and any amount to get back is either not enough or they resent having paid in too much.  I have to remind myself that I am only the messenger, and it is generally not my fault that anybody owes tax.

Now, I’m looking forward to the summer.  I leave town eight weeks from now.  That means I’ve got about seven weeks to get all these tax returns wrapped up.  The good news is that my other jobs start to lighten up in May, so I should finally have uninterrupted time to get some work done.  The bad news is that I probably won’t get much of a break until I cross the state line.