Hold the phone (app), folks.

The IRS has announced that extremely high traffic is causing the “Where’s My Refund?” tool to be unavailable for some taxpayers at times this season. This affects both the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov and the refund feature on the IRS2go phone app.

Of course, this likely doesn’t come as a surprise to most tax professionals: complaints about the system being down have been steady since tax season kicked off on January 30.

To help mitigate the problem, the IRS is asking taxpayers to only check on their refunds once a day. This actually makes a lot of sense since IRS systems are only updated once a day (usually overnight). Checking multiple times during the day won’t give you a different answer – and it’s just clogging up the system. And there’s no need to shop around: you’ll get the same answer on the internet as on the phone (this, according to the IRS though taxpayers are telling me differently).

The IRS also advises that to avoid technical woes, the best time to check on refunds is evening and weekends.

The timing of the announcement makes sense. Filing season opened on January 30 and most refunds for taxpayers who file electronically and use direct deposit are issued within 21 days. We are on day 15 and taxpayers are growing anxious. I suspect that systems are likely overwhelmed from the floodgates which were opened on January 30. Tax preparers encouraged taxpayers to file early even though the IRS was not accepting returns until the 30th: the result was that many returns were queued in advance, making January 30 an unusually busy day.

Volume is expected to increase as tax season goes forward so brace yourself. It looks like it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney and tax writer.

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