13 Jul 2021 Where’s My Refund?
Authored by Haynie & Company Partner, Bernard Abercrombie, CPA
Where’s My Refund?
One of the most common questions we receive from clients is, “Where’s my tax refund?”. In most cases, they are referring to their 2020 tax return. However, the IRS recently announced there are still hundreds of thousands of 2019 tax returns that are still not processed or in suspension for various reasons. Most of those are paper-filed returns that require manual processing.
Reports from the National Taxpayer Advocates Office as of June 30, 2021, indicate that over 35 million tax returns were still unprocessed from the 2019, 2020, and 2021 tax filing seasons. Of that, there were 17 million returns that they just hadn’t gotten to, and another 16 million placed on hold because they require further manual review. Plus, 3 million amended returns have not been processed.
The first step is to check the IRS’s “Where’s My Refund” website at IRS.gov/Refunds. However, clients often indicate they have already tried that or ask us to try on their behalf. Unfortunately, the information provided by the IRS website often does not provide useful information. Instead, it indicates there is no record of the return being filed, even though it may have been electronically filed and accepted weeks or months before. This results in taxpayer’s concern that their return wasn’t filed or has been lost. We can offer our clients assurance that their return was filed. In the case of electronically filed returns, our records reflect the date the IRS acknowledged receipt and acceptance of the return. Occasionally the status provided by the IRS website does acknowledge receipt of the return but indicates that it is processing. Once again, it could sit in this status for weeks or months.
So, with all of that, the logical conclusion would be to call the IRS and talk to a real person. Multiple phone numbers can be used, but according to reports, only 2% of the 75 million phone calls they receive about 1040 Forms are answered. Generally, the taxpayer goes through a seemingly endless loop of being directed back to the website that provides no information. In some cases, we have heard, the endless loop ends with a message stating, “we’re too busy, please call back later” and the phone is disconnected.
Taxpayer Advocates Office
There are other alternatives in extreme circumstances such as contacting the Taxpayer Advocates Office, a division of the Treasury Department, which advocates on behalf of taxpayers. You must meet some criteria before they will step in. Not surprisingly, they are also very difficult to reach by phone.
In the end, most taxpayers just have to practice patience. However, we are here to help. Contact us with any tax questions you may have.
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