Receiving a tax refund might be the only thing people like about filing their return, and it looks like some taxpayers are about to get just a little more money from the Department of Treasury.
The Internal Revenue Service today announced that it “will send interest payments to about 13.9 million individual taxpayers who timely filed their 2019 federal income tax returns and are receiving refunds.” As with seemingly everything else in 2020, this is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Why are 13.9 million taxpayers receiving a tax refund interest payment?
Federal law requires the IRS issue interest payments to taxpayers who file on time after a disaster postpones the filing deadline. In this case, the obvious culprit is COVID-19 pushing Tax Day back to July 15, 2020. But before people start exchanging socially distanced air high fives, there are a few things they’ll need to know:
- Interest payments will not be issued to businesses nor taxpayers who received their refund before April 15
- The interest payment will in most cases not arrive at the same time as the refund payment
- The average interest payment is $18
- The interest payment is taxable if it’s $10 or more
The longer it takes for a timely filed tax refund to arrive after the original deadline (April 15, 2020), the more interest the IRS will owe. And since the interest is calculated using the adjusted quarterly rate (compounded daily), that can sometimes result in using a blended rate for refunds that “span quarters.”
Here are the rates specifically cited by the IRS:
- 5% for the second quarter
- 3% for the third quarter
Interest payments affected by the blended rate will be calculated using “the number of days falling in each calendar quarter.” Perhaps making it a little easier to report a taxable interest payment, the IRS will send letters containing Form 1099-INT at the beginning of next year.
How are these tax refund interest payments being issued?
Taxpayers should generally expect to receive their tax refund interest payment the same way they received their tax refund: “In most cases, taxpayers who received their refund by direct deposit will have their interest payment direct deposited in the same account …. [and] everyone else will receive a check.”
As you well know, many people plan their finances based on the assumption that they will receive a tax refund every year. When everything feels like it’s up in the air, a little good news is welcome—even if it requires some paperwork.