March 5, 2020 - Douglas Myser

Tax refund delays cause anxiety. Plenty of people file in February because they just can't wait to get their hands on all that tax refund cash. They're on edge about the size of their IRS tax refunds, and they're far from alone. Roughly 60 million individual tax filers typically file a federal income tax return by the end of February--or nearly 40% of the individual income tax filers for the tax year. Call it tax refund anxiety. We're anxious because that once a year tax refund check is our ticket to paradise. The tax refund often is the single largest chunk of money they will see at once. It's a windfall that can plug holes in a budget. Or money that can be used to cover a few dreams along the way. maybe a weekend trip in the summer. The average IRS federal income tax refund was $2,869 in 2019 based on returns filed through Dec. 27, 2019. That's down slightly from an average of $2910 in 2018. Tax refund delays cause anxiety.

If you file your tax return electronically, you can often anticipate receiving a refund within 21 days. Yet many of us think that's even too long to wait. Often people who are living close to their means have built up debt and they see the tax refund as a way to clear a chunk of that debt. They might have built up over Christmas and the tax refund is an important part of squaring their balances. Credit Card balances keep climbing after all, and hit $880 billion in the third quarter of 2019, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. All the debt that consumers are carrying, of course, means that many budgets are already stretched to the max.

Tax refund cash, not surprisingly, is essential for those living on limited incomes. The word "anxious" best describes what it's like to wait for a tax refund, according to about 29% of tax filers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit and participated in a survey commissioned by H&R Block.

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