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Earliest tax-filers face a 1-week delay in getting refunds from IRS

Updated: March 2, 2012 8:12AM

Some taxpayers who filed their federal income-tax returns early this year will have to wait a week longer than initially projected to get their refunds.

The delay was caused by new safeguards installed to prevent refund fraud, IRS spokesman Michelle Eldridge says.

The problem is limited to taxpayers whose returns were filed before Jan. 26. Taxpayers whose returns were accepted on or after that date won’t be affected, Eldridge says.

For many early filers, even a one-week holdup could present a serious hardship, says Andy Stadler, an enrolled agent in Terre Haute, Ind. He received a call on Friday from a client who was counting on her refund to pay her electric bill and feared her power would be cut off before she got the money.

“The people that come in early tend to be people who really need their tax refunds desperately,” he says. “Even a week is a huge deal.”

The delay has also created headaches for tax preparers because they have to explain to clients that refunds could be delayed.

TurboTax is notifying customers of the potential delays by e-mail and has posted a notice on its Facebook page, spokeswoman Julie Miller says. H&R Block also posted notices about the delay, noting that it affected all types of returns, regardless of how they were filed or who prepared them.

Taxpayers who e-file their tax returns and arrange for direct deposit typically receive their refunds within 10 to 21 days.

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