A pushed-to-the-limit Internal Revenue Service and perplexing tax rules are leaving millions of taxpayers waiting and wondering just when they'll get their hands on much needed tax refund cash.
For some early filers, the wait for a tax refund has been six weeks to eight weeks already — far longer than a typical wait of 21 days or less — after filing their 2020 income tax returns in February or March.
"Is the car going to break down before the money gets here?" asked Tonya Williams, 69, a Flint, Mich., widow who is raising her two grandchildren.
The mother of her granddaughter died at age 38 in 2016. The father of her grandson is in prison. Her husband died in August 2020.
"I pray a lot, let me say that," said Williams, who says as a breast cancer survivor she knows it is essential to limit stress.
She's babying the car as much as possible.
Her grandson Ja'Tavion Walker, 14, who lives with her, is getting a ride from his basketball coach until she's able to afford fixing the catalytic converter on her 2015 Cadillac SRX Sport Utility.
And fortunately, she hasn't had to drive her granddaughter Don'Jhanaya Buck, 11, who also lives with her, to a long list of dance competitions elsewhere in Michigan during pandemic-related pauses.
"I'm their transportation. It's me," she said.
Her tax return was filed Feb. 27 and she's expecting to receive a 2020 tax refund of $5,522. The money would cover the estimated car repair of $3,000. But until she gets the money, she's hoping to delay fixing the car.