PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Tax season is officially here, and experts are warning those who are filing to brace themselves.

Melissa Travis, CEO and president of the Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants (RISCPA), said the IRS is currently dealing with a backlog of nearly 6 million tax refunds from last year.

“You need to make sure your tax filing status is correct and everything on your return is accurate,” Travis explained. “The backlog, for the most part, comes from inaccurate filing.”

The IRS is also expecting more than 160 million individual tax returns this year on top of that backlog, and combined with staffing shortages, Travis said to expect delays.

“They do expect it to be worse than last year,” she said.

Erica Guratieri, a certified public accountant (CPA), there are other factors to consider this year as well.

“The advanced child tax credit, the earned income tax credit … there was a third stimulus [check] that came out,” Guatieri explained, adding that the IRS will need additional time to reconcile those.

Guatieri said even if you’re still waiting for your 2020 tax return, you should still file your 2021 taxes.

When it comes to filing this year, Guatieri said the IRS is encouraging everyone to receive their refunds through direct deposit.

Travis urged everyone to make sure they have all of the forms necessary to file before sending it in.

“Employers have until the end of January to mail you your forms,” Travis explained. “So even if you can file now, you may want to wait a week or two just to make sure, because amending your return will be nearly impossible this year.”

But Travis also reminded people not to wait until the last minute to file their tax returns, and to file early if at all possible. This year, Rhode Island’s deadline in April 18, while Massachusetts’ is April 19.

The federal government recently launched a revamped website to help people who were eligible for last year’s child tax credit to receive the second half of those payments.