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Busy Season Problems: People Are Flipping Out Over Their Small Tax Refunds

You guys have probably seen or heard that as of Feb. 8, the average tax refund was $1,949, down 8.7% compared to the first two weeks of tax season last year. And you’ve probably seen or heard that economists and tax experts are saying it’s way too early to start rioting in the streets, as only a small portion of overall refunds are issued by mid-February each year.

Still, people who weren’t expecting a smaller refund than usual, and especially people who have to owe money this year to the IRS, are pissed. Like Andy Kraft and Amy Elias of Portland, Ore.:

The couple had grown comfortable getting a small refund each year, a few hundred dollars or more. Then they found out they owe $10,160 this year.

“I will never forget the moment, I thought ‘We look good’ and then we added in the next W-2 and my jaw hit the floor,” Kraft said. “There was no way I wanted to believe that what I was looking at was accurate.”

But instead of blaming those responsible for giving us the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act or blaming themselves for not adjusting their withholding, pissed-off people are blaming their accountants—and that’s not cool.

CPA Rosalba Mazzola told the CBS affiliate in New York:

“I’ve had situations where people have teared up, their head on my desk… I’ve been kind of consoling people and apologizing to people,” Mazzola said.

“Everyone is cursing their accountants now. I’ve spoken to a lot of my colleagues and everyone’s kind of feeling beat up.”

The Brooklyn CPA says she spends twice as much time with her clients, trying to explain the changes.

Some of her customers – including one recent client – are even blaming her, accusing the CPA of bad accounting.

“Last year his refund was $6,000 and this year it was $557 and he lost it. He literally lost, said it ‘must’ve been a mistake. This can’t be correct!’”

Maybe the average refund amount will get larger, as Morgan Stanley economists are predicting, and people’s moods will get better. Who knows! If not, it’s going to be a real long next couple of months for many of you guys.

If you have any busy season problems that you’d like to share, shoot us an email or comment below.