How long will it take the IRS to clear its enormous backlog? Here’s what we know thus far.
The IRS stated at the beginning of the month that it had 8.5 million unprocessed individual returns, including 2020 filings with problems and modified returns requiring repairs or special processing. Refunds, which normally take about 21 days to complete, are now requiring at least 120 days. Refund cheques were supposed to arrive this summer, but it’s almost autumn and the IRS hasn’t provided an update to let people know when they may expect their money.
In addition, the IRS has been quite busy with stimulus checks, child tax credit payments, and refunds for tax overpayments on unemployment benefits. The “plus-up” stimulus adjustments, as well as the third advance monthly check of the child tax credit payment, which went out today, may provide some financial comfort to families, but an overdue tax return would be much more beneficial.
In most instances, taxpayers may only exercise patience since the tax office is difficult to contact. The best option is to check your IRS account or trace your return online using the Where’s My Refund feature. We’ll show you how to do it. We can also advise you on what to do if the IRS has sent you a “math-error notice.” This article is regularly updated.
How long will it take for you to get your federal refund?
The IRS typically delivers tax refunds within three weeks, but some people have been waiting for months. If there are any mistakes, or if you submitted a claim for the earned income tax credit or the child tax credit, you may have to wait a long time. If there is a problem that is delaying the processing of your return, the resolution “depends on how quickly and accurately you respond, as well as the ability of IRS staff trained and working under social distancing requirements to complete the processing of your return,” according to the IRS website.
The date on which you get your tax refund is also dependent on how your return was submitted. For instance, if you get refunds through direct deposit, it may take an extra five days for your bank to transfer the cash to your account. This implies that if the IRS takes the entire 21 days to issue your check and your bank takes five days to post it, you may be out of money for a total of 26 days. If you sent your tax return, the IRS estimates that it will take six to eight weeks for your refund to arrive after it is processed.
What is the source of the huge IRS backlog and delays?
Due to the pandemic, the IRS operated at a reduced capacity in 2020, putting a burden on its ability to process tax returns and creating a backlog. According to a National Taxpayer Advocate assessment of the 2021 filing season to Congress, the combination of the shutdown, three rounds of stimulus payouts, difficulties with paper-filed returns, and duties connected to implementing new tax rules and credits produced a “perfect storm.”
The IRS has reopened and is now processing mail, tax returns, payments, refunds, and communications, but insufficient resources are causing further delays. The IRS also said that it would take extra time to examine 2020 tax returns, such as establishing recovery rebate credit amounts for the first and second stimulus cheques – or calculating earned income tax credit and additional child tax credit amounts.
Here is a list of possible reasons why your income tax refund may be delayed:
- There are mistakes on your tax return.
- It’s not complete.
- Your refund is being investigated for identity theft or fraud.
- You claimed the earned income tax credit or the extra child tax credit.
- Your return requires more examination.
- Your return contains Form 8379 (PDF), which will take up to 14 weeks to process.
The IRS will give you an explanation if the delay is due to a required tax adjustment made to a recovery rebate credit, earned income tax credit, or extra child tax credit claimed on your return. If there is an issue that has to be resolved, the IRS will attempt to continue without first notifying you. If it requires more information, it will send you a letter.
How does the Where’s My Refund tool work?
To use the IRS tracker tools to check the status of your 2020 income tax refund, you’ll need to provide the following 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, wait at least 24 hours (or up to four weeks if you sent your return) before beginning to monitor your refund.
Go to the Get Refund Status page of the IRS tool Where’s My Refund, input your SSN or ITIN, filing status, and precise refund amount, then click Submit. If you submitted your information properly, you will be sent to a page that displays the status of your refund. If you don’t, you may be prompted to validate your personal tax information and try again. If everything appears right, you’ll need to input the date you filed your taxes, as well as whether you did it online or on paper.
The IRS now offers a smartphone app called IRS2Go that allows you to check the status of your tax refund; it is accessible in both English and Spanish. You will be able to check if your return was accepted, authorized, and delivered. You’ll need certain information to log in, including your Social Security number, filing status, and anticipated return amount. The IRS refreshes the data in this tool nightly, so if you haven’t seen a status change after 24 hours or longer, return the next day. Once your return and refund have been authorized, you will be given a customized date to anticipate your money.
What My Refund? contains information on the most recent tax refund that the IRS has on file within the last two years, so if you’re searching for return information from prior years, check your IRS online account. You’ll be able to view the total amount you owe, your payment history, important information about your most recent tax return, notifications you’ve received from the IRS, and your address on file via your own customized account.
What are these IRS tax refund messages all about?
Both the IRS tools (online and mobile app) will display one of three messages to describe the status of your tax return.
- Received: The IRS has received your tax return and is working on processing it.
- Approved: The IRS has processed your return and verified the amount of any refund due to you, if any.
- Sent: Your refund has been processed and is on its way to your bank through direct deposit or a paper check sent to your mailbox. (If you’ve relocated, here’s how to update your address on file.)
What does the IRS mean when they issue a ‘math error’ notice?
This year, millions of Americans have received perplexing IRS “math-error notifications” indicating that they owe extra taxes. Once they get the notification, they have 60 days to reply before it is turned over to the agency’s collection section.
From the beginning of the year through the end of August, the IRS issued almost 11 million of these notifications. “Many arithmetic mistake notifications are imprecise and do not properly convey the severity of the issue,” according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Additionally, sometimes the notices “don’t even specify the exact error that was corrected, but rather provide a series of possible errors that may have been addressed by the IRS.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the bulk of the mistakes this year are linked to stimulus payouts. They may also be linked to a tax adjustment for a number of problems discovered by the IRS throughout the processing process. They may result in more tax being owed or a change in the amount of the refund – either more or less. If you disagree with the amount, you may contact the IRS to have a representative examine your account.
How should you approach the IRS for assistance?
This tax season, the IRS got 167 million calls, which is four times the amount of calls received in 2019. According to a recent study, just 7% of callers reached a telephone representative for assistance. While you could contact the IRS to verify your status, the agency’s live phone help is now very restricted since the IRS is working hard to clear the backlog. You should not submit a second tax return or inquire about the status of your return with the IRS.
For additional information, see the IRS’s Let Us Help You page on its website. It also suggests that taxpayers seek in-person assistance at Taxpayer Assistance Centers. You may contact your local IRS office or call 844-545-5640 to schedule an appointment. If you are qualified for help, you may also contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service at 877-777-4778.
Though the odds of receiving live help are low, the IRS advises calling the agency directly only if it has been 21 days or more after you filed your taxes online, or if the Where’s My Refund feature directs you to do so. During normal business hours, you may reach us at 800-829-1040 or 800-829-8374.
What exactly is an IRS TREAS 310 transaction?
If you get your tax return through direct deposit, the transaction may be identified as IRS TREAS 310. The 310 code merely identifies the transaction as an electronic payment of a refund from a submitted tax return (direct deposit). This would also apply to those who received an automatic adjustment or a refund as a result of the March law on tax-free unemployment payments. For a refund, you may also see TAX REF in the description box.
If you got an IRS TREAS 310 along with a CHILD CTC description, the funds are being used to make monthly advance payments on the enhanced child tax credit.
If you see a 449 instead of a 310, it indicates your return has been reduced to account for past-due debt.
Why would you get your refund through snail mail?
Your refund may be sent to you for a variety of reasons. Your funds may only be electronically placed into a bank account in your name, the name of your spouse, or a joint account. If that isn’t the case, you may be receiving several refund checks, since the IRS may only direct-deposit up to three returns to a single account. Refunds must be sent again. Also, your bank may reject the deposit, in which case the IRS will return your money as soon as possible.
It’s also worth noting that direct deposit isn’t always automatic for refunds. Some people have noticed that, similar to the stimulus cheques, the first two installments for the child tax credit have been sent. In case of emergency, parents should log in to the IRS site to ensure that the agency has the proper banking information. If not, parents may include it in the September payment.
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