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Expecting A Tax Refund This Year? Expert Offers Advice To Avoid Major Delays

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mark your calendars — the Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting 2021 federal tax returns on Monday.

If you're expecting to get money back, federal officials say there may be delays.

The IRS is warning it could be a tough tax season thanks to the pandemic, from staffing issues to lack of funding and a huge backlog.

As of Dec. 31, the agency had 6 million unprocessed individual returns, noting it had to correct significantly more errors on tax returns than previous years.

But experts say there are ways to avoid major delays.

"The federal still allows paper filing, but it's really not a great idea because you're gonna be sitting there waiting months and maybe years until they process your return, so e-filing is the way to go," certified public accountant E. Martin Davidoff told CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis.

Along with filing electronically and choosing direct deposit, Davidoff says it's important your return is accurate, so make sure you have all your documents beforehand.

"If you received advanced child care credits, make sure you have all the information about what you got on that," he said.

Those recipients will get a letter from the IRS with that important information, as will people who received a third stimulus check.

Davidoff says it's important to file and pay on time.

"If they don't file, there's a 5% per month penalty on what they owe. Better to file, get current on their 2022 estimates and deal with the IRS on the past stuff. The IRS will work with you," he said.

Right now, you can access your online account with a username and password, but starting this summer, you'll need a photo ID and selfie.

The IRS is moving to facial recognition, through a third-party verifier, to protect from potential identity theft.

"Passwords can get stolen. Faces cannot get stolen, but on the other hand, a concern from a consumer perspective is going to be perception based, which is how secure is my identity stored with the government, and I think that's a big hurdle the IRS will have to come through," cyber security expert Ahmer Inam said.

Right now, the focus is on this tax season, beginning Monday, and meeting the deadline of April 18.

For more tax tips, including an IRS checklist, click here.

Editor's note: This story was first published Jan. 20.

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