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While Millions Wait To File Tax Returns, Some Early Filers Will Get Unexpected Refund

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Monday is the deadline for filing your 2020 state and federal tax returns.

And while many taxpayers wait until the last minute, millions of others have already filed. Some of those could be getting a surprise refund.

With the pandemic and economic uncertainty, there's been a lot of procrastination in filing tax returns this year.

"About 33 million people have yet to file their taxes," says Aimee Picchi with CBS Money Watch.

That's worse than last year. Anyone expecting a quick refund, especially from a paper filing, may have to wait as many 2019 returns filed during the pandemic are still being processed.

"They actually just loaded the tax returns into tractor-trailers and just let them sit until the IRS employees were able to get there, open up the returns and start processing them. As of March, they still had about two or three million of those paper returns from 2019 to go through," says Picchi.

Bad news for many, but here's some good news for those who collected unemployment benefits last year and then filed their 2020 tax returns before mid-March.

"There were about 10 million people who filed their taxes before the American Rescue Plan was passed and signed into law by President (Joe) Biden, and those people paid their taxes on their unemployment benefits," said Picchi.

That new law exempts from federal taxes the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits, which means millions are owed an extra refund.

"The IRS is going back and checking tax returns. And if you paid taxes on that unemployment income, they're going to refund you that money, refund you the tax that you paid," says Picchi.

It may take a while to get this special refund.

"They're starting with the tax returns that are easiest for them to process. So these are single filers with no tax credits. They're going to go through the process first," Picchi said.

While the first checks are going out this week, it may take until Labor Day to get all the refunds out. But for a change, the taxpayer doesn't have to do anything. The IRS is supposed to send a refund without any additional paperwork by the taxpayer.

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