We’re in the final stretch of summer, and the IRS is still processing millions of tax returns. So if you’re still waiting for your federal tax refund check, be aware that the tax agency is receiving a record number of phone calls and still working through a massive backlog of returns. Many taxpayers need the money to help with bills, debt and other expenses, but they don’t have a clue where their money is.
The IRS has also been busy with stimulus checks, adjustments for 2020 returns, child tax credit payments andon unemployment benefits. The “plus-up” stimulus payments and the third advance monthly payment of the expanded — which goes out on Sept. 15 — could give families some financial relief, but an overdue tax refund would be an even bigger help. And unfortunately, taxpayers are still waiting for a payment date or clue that their check is on the way.
We’ll show you how to track your money using the online Where’s My Refund tool and check your unemployment refund status with your tax transcript. To learn more on economic aid, here are ways to seefor child tax credit payments. If you’re wondering about or the latest on , we can tell you about that, too. This story is updated frequently.
Why federal tax refunds are delayed
Because of the pandemic, the IRS ran at restricted capacity in 2020, which put a strain on its ability to process tax returns and created a backlog. The combination of the shutdown, three rounds of stimulus payments, challenges with paper-filed returns and the tasks related to implementing new tax laws and credits created a “perfect storm,” according to a National Taxpayer Advocate review of the 2021 filing season to Congress.
The IRS is open again and currently processing mail, tax returns, payments, refunds and correspondence, but limited resources continue to cause delays. The IRS said it’s also taking more time for 2020 tax returns that need review, such as determiningamounts for the first and second stimulus checks — or figuring out earned income tax credit and additional child tax credit amounts.
Here’s a list of reasons your income tax refund might be delayed:
- Your tax return has errors.
- It’s incomplete.
- Your refund is suspected of identity theft or fraud.
- You filed for the earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit.
- Your return needs further review.
- Your return includes Form 8379 (PDF), injured spouse allocation — this could take up to 14 weeks to process.
If the delay is due to a necessary tax correction made to a recovery rebate credit, earned income tax or additional child tax credit claimed on your return, the IRS will send you an explanation. If there’s a problem that needs to be fixed, the IRS will first try to proceed without contacting you. However, if it needs any more information, it will write you a letter.
The IRS’ timeline for processing tax refunds
The IRS usually issues tax refunds within three weeks, but some taxpayers have been waiting months to receive their payments. If there are any errors, or if you filed a claim for an earned income tax credit or the, the wait could be pretty lengthy. If there is an issue holding up your return, the resolution “depends on how quickly and accurately you respond, and the ability of IRS staff trained and working under social distancing requirements to complete the processing of your return,” according to its website.
The date you get your tax refund also depends on how you filed your return. For example, with refunds going, it could take an additional five days for your bank to post the money to your account. This means if it took the IRS the full 21 days to issue your check and your bank five days to post it, you could be waiting a total of 26 days to get your money. If you submitted a tax return by mail, the IRS says it could take six to eight weeks for your tax refund to arrive.
How to use the IRS’ Where’s My Refund tool
To check the status of your 2020 income tax refund using the IRS tracker tools, you’ll need to give some information: your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, your filing status — single, married or head of household — and your refund amount in whole dollars, which you can find on your tax return. Also, make sure it’s been at least 24 hours (or up to four weeks if you mailed your return) before you start tracking your refund.
Using the IRS tool Where’s My Refund, go to the Get Refund Status page, enter your SSN or ITIN, your filing status and your exact refund amount, then press Submit. If you entered your information correctly, you’ll be taken to a page that shows your refund status. If not, you may be asked to verify your personal tax data and try again. If all the information looks correct, you’ll need to enter the date you filed your taxes, along with whether you filed electronically or on paper.
The IRS also has a mobile app called IRS2Go that checks your tax refund status — it’s available in English and Spanish. You’ll be able to see if your return has been received, approved and sent. In order to log in, you’ll need some information — your Social Security number, filing status and expected refund amount. The IRS updates the data in this tool overnight, so if you don’t see a status change after 24 hours or more, check back the following day. Once your return and refund are approved, you’ll receive a personalized date by which to expect your money.
Where’s My Refund has information on the most recent tax refund that the IRS has on file within the past two years, so if you’re looking for return information from previous years you’ll need to contact the IRS for further help…Read more>>