potneverboils“A watched pot never boils,” preached my grandma as she launched into one of her favorite lectures. Pointing out that I was waiting in front of a humming microwave was futile. The lecture would still commence. 

The Internal Revenue Service basically preached the same thing in a statement they released last week regarding their Where’s My Refund tool. Apparently, now that our mobile devices allow us to get online anywhere and anytime, we are feverously checking the IRS’ web site to see – well – Where’s My Refund? The IRS said that they have experienced an “inordinately large number of visitors” using the website and smartphone apps. 

In return, the IRS is asking all of us to check the website only once a day (because it’s only updated once a day, usually at night). After all, just ten years ago, we peered hopefully into our physical home mailboxes just once a day. 

Times are different today, though, than they were ten years ago. With Congress dragging their feet, it caused tax season to drag out, and now refunds are taking longer. For many, a delayed refund is so much more than an “inconvenience” but more like an actual hardship. Some people are checking on their refund, because they are panicking that the money won’t come in time. In time to stop the landlord from kicking them to the curb, stop the bank from taking the car, stop the power and heat from getting cut off.  

People at the IRS are diligently working to get the refunds out as quickly as possible. To their credit they do advise against making purchases based on anticipated returns (IRS Publication 2043). Refunds typically take 21 days; however, some people are waiting even longer. 

And that reminds me of another one of grandma’s favorite lectures: “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” I hate it when the IRS and grandma are right.