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Here's why you should expect a delay as you file your taxes this year

As of December, the IRS reported a backlog of 6 million unprocessed individual returns-- some spanning back as far as April 2021.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It is no secret that the pandemic has created a lot of challenges.

Accountants like Jaye Gasaway said they are already prepared for a busy and tough tax season.

"There's going to be some expectations of delayed processing of returns, processing refunds," Gasaway said.

As of late December, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reported a backlog of 6-million unprocessed individual returns, with some of them as far back as April 2021.

Gasaway said this is because the agency is suffering from pandemic woes.

"The IRS is severely understaffed and underfunded. I mean, it's almost at a crisis level," Gasaway said.

So, let's say you are planning to mail in your returns this year. Is it possible that you could get your tax return back in a timely manner?

Gasaway said the answer is no. 

"You can forget about that. That's gonna take a long time to get that processed and reflected via the IRS transcript records," Gasaway said.

His best advice on avoiding a delay is to file online as early as you can.

"We certainly highly encourage folks to e-file their tax returns to prevent any delays in processing," Gasaway said.

On top of that, he recommends that you make sure you double check all of the information that you enter.

Something as simple as a name error could cause a significant delay.

"It's critical when you're preparing your return that you look, [and] you examine all the information," Gasaway said.

He said the tax season is already busy for him, but he doesn't anticipate this year being as challenging as 2021.

He also wants to remind people to have a little patience as you prepare your taxes. 

"We would certainly appreciate some understanding on your side, because, we're pretty much under the gun as well," Gasaway said.

The IRS begins accepting federal tax returns on Monday, Jan. 24 and the deadline to file or request an extension is Monday, April 18.

For more tips and a tax checklist, you can visit their website.