Still haven’t received your 2020 tax refund? You are not alone.
According to a recent report from the National Tax Payer Advocate, at the end of the 2021 filing season the Internal Revenue Service was working on a backlog of 35 million tax returns that needed to be processed manually.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) — an independent watchdog organization within the IRS — says it is aware that taxpayers are experiencing more refund delays this year than usual.
“Typically, the IRS processes electronic returns and pays refunds within 21 days of receipt,” the TAS said on it’s website. “However, the high volume of 2020 tax returns being filed daily, backlog of unprocessed 2019 paper tax returns, IRS resource issues, and technology problems are causing delays. This is due, in part, to the IRS’s need to manually verify large numbers of Refund Recovery Credits (RRCs), as well as Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Advance Child Tax Credit (ACTC) 2019 adjusted income lookback claims. Once a return is processed by the IRS and loaded on to the IRS systems, TAS may be able to assist with delayed refunds if you meet our case criteria. Please review our case criteria tool to determine if TAS may be able to assist.”
The TAS also writes:
Currently, the vast majority of processing delays result from tax returns not loaded onto the IRS system or in “suspense” status awaiting IRS action. To date, over 6 million electronic returns have been “suspended” due to issues requiring manual processing or return inconsistencies. Until these returns move out of suspense status, neither the IRS nor TAS can access these cases to work them or provide taxpayers with any additional information. TAS cannot accept refund delay cases that are in suspense, including requests for assistance made through the Systemic Advocacy Management System (SAMS). Until the tax return is posted on the IRS system, neither TAS nor the IRS can see or access the return information. And until TAS can see the return on the system, we cannot advocate to resolve any issues. TAS is working with the IRS to identify how taxpayers can use the Where’s My Refund tool to determine their status.
How to check on the status of your refund
One of the best ways to check is to use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on the IRS website and the IRS2Go app.
According to the IRS, the information is updated once a day (usually overnight) and gives taxpayers a projected refund issuance date as soon as it is approved.
To access the “Where’s My Refund?” tool, go to: https://www.irs.gov/refunds.
To use the online tool, taxpayers will need to enter their Social Security number, tax filing status (single, married, head of household) and exact amount of the tax refund claimed on the return.
Should you call the IRS?
The IRS says that you should expect delays if you mailed a paper return, had to respond to an IRS inquiry about your e-filed return, claimed an incorrect Recovery Rebate Credit amount or used 2019 income to claim the EITC or ACTC. Otherwise, you should only call if it has been:
- 21 days or more since you e-filed
- “Where’s My Refund” tells you to contact the IRS
- The IRS requests that you do not file a second tax return.
Ordering a tax transcript will not speed delivery of tax refunds nor does the posting of a tax transcript to a taxpayer’s account determine the timing of a refund delivery,” the IRS said in a recent statement. “Calls to request transcripts for this purpose are unnecessary. Transcripts are available online and by mail at Get Transcript.”
Reasons a tax fund may take more time
There are several reasons a tax refund may take longer, including:
- Some tax returns require additional review.
- The return may include errors or be incomplete.
- The return could be affected by identity theft or fraud.
- The return includes a claim for the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit.
- The time between the IRS issuing the refund and the bank posting it to an account since many banks do not process payments on weekends or holidays.
The IRS will contact taxpayers by mail if more information is needed to process a return.