Why Is It Taking So Long To Get My Tax Refund


When it comes to tax season I receive a lot of reader questions, many tinged with a hint of desperation, around why IRS tax refunds are taking so long and what can be done to get refunds sooner rather than later. Here is a sampling of comments from the current and past tax seasons:

Help me please. I filled February 4th and my taxes were expected Feb 7th. I filled head of household and claimed both of my children and have my own business so I have a schedule c. I’m still waiting. All the websites are saying my taxes are still being processed and I need this money now and every time I call IRS I get automated people HELP [Jenny]

Well I filed on Feb 14 and still wmr [where is my refund] says still processing ugh IRS told me to wait till 21 days before I call them. Ugh [Shirley]I filed my federal on Jan. 30th and it was received on the 31st. I have called 3x and each person has told me something different. Two said there was an error on my return and they had not sent a letter, so it was something the IRS could correct. It has been the “21 days” they talk about, but nothing. I have received my state refund. How long is this going to take??? [Lisa]

why is my tax return taking so longI have the education form 8863 and I filed Jan 30 and been accepted, I understand that the form did not get released until Feb 14. How much longer and are they behind. I have bills to pay and a single mother? Getting frustrated and really impatient. [Rachelle]

Our taxes were turned in Jan 30th, by tax lady. We still have not received our Federal tax return but we have our state refund. It was turned in E file. How much longer is it going to take? Everyone around us is getting theirs but ours [Dusty]

So what can you do if your tax refund is taking much longer to get than expected?

There are two main reasons that your tax refund is taking longer than expected. Either something is wrong with your tax return filing (e.g. missing information, incorrect social security numbers) or information from related sources (employer, ex-partner) do not add up (e.g. same dependents claimed in multiple tax returns). So here are a few things you can do to try and figure out why your tax refund is so taking so long to get to you.

  • Check the IRS tax tool, where’s my refund, to get the official status of your refund (see estimated IRS refund schedule). It is updated daily and provides the latest processing status of your tax refund. The IRS has announced that it expects to issue more than 90% of refunds to taxpayers in less than 21 days. So even if you have submitted all your documents you probably need to wait for at least 21 to 30 days before taking on more drastic actions.

Why is my e-filed tax return in “Pending” status and the IRS has no record of my tax return? TurboTax experts say that after e-filing, your federal return may sit in “Pending” status 24-48 hours before its status changes.  If you contact the IRS or try to look up your return or refund status on their site while your return is in “Pending” status, don’t be alarmed if they tell you they have no record of your return. This is normal; once the IRS acknowledges your return, they will update your status to “Accepted” or “Rejected.”

Update – Feb 2015 : The IRS has said most taxpayers are filing their returns electronically and choosing direct deposit for their refunds. As of Jan. 31, the IRS has received more than 14 million tax returns this year and has issued 7.6 million refunds worth $26.8 billion; the average refund is worth $3,539. More than 96 percent of all refunds have been paid through direct deposit. All total, 7.3 million refunds worth $26.2 billion have been directly deposited to taxpayer accounts. One thing that could be causing people to experience delays in getting their refunds,  according to the IRS, is returns that are not accurately completed. So to ensure you get your refund ensure your return is as accurate as possible.

  • Review your tax return and make sure there no obvious mistakes like missing names/SSN or forgetting to sign your tax return. You can resubmit an amended tax return entering the changes and explaining why you need to amend your original tax return. You don’t have to redo your entire return, either. Just show the necessary changes and adjust your tax liability accordingly. You usually do not need to file an amended return because you forgot to include tax forms such as W-2s or 1099 forms. The IRS normally will send a separate request asking for those documents.
  • If you claim certain credits like the Earned Income Credit or Education credits in your tax return, the IRS announced that refunds these returns generate may take longer. So expect your refund to take longer in this case – possibly into April, even if you filed early.
  • Hire an accountant or tax services firm to follow up this issue on your behalf particularly if you have a tax obligation to the IRS. But be warned, these are not the cheapest options and if you refund is less than $1,000 it may not be worth the cost.
  • Calling the IRS is an option, though getting through to someone is a challenge. You can go the IRS resources page to get the latest contact IRS numbers/locations.

I know it can be really frustrating to see ongoing delays in getting your tax refund. My answer is be patient, look into the above steps and contact a professional if you get nowhere with the IRS.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris N February 26, 2015

As of tomorrow, we will have waited for a month. No change in online status. So I tried calling the IRS, they are not longer taking live phone calls. You can use their automated phone system or go online to get questions answered.


Andy (Author) February 27, 2015

Sorry to hear that. Something has clearly been flagged in your refund. The IRS has acknowledged processing delay issues, but a month is quite long. Hang in there


Joyce June 3, 2013

I sent my Illinois state taxes in the mail Feb 18th,2013. And i still have not go it back yet. I filed my Wi state taxes a day before the dead line. And received it back with in 4 week. So why is it taking so long to get my Illinos state taxes back?


Dianne April 17, 2013

I had filed my taxes on Feb 2,2013 the due date of receiving the refund was Feb 19… and had not recieved a letter so I decided to call the IRS, they need it copy of all the paperwork, so I did sent all the info. While on the phone they told me it might take any where from 6-8 weeks because they never received the electronic paperwork that HR block did. LOL but now I got a letter from HR asking me to pay ($300) for my filling when it was suppose to get out of my taxes. BUt now next yr I’ll call the IRS and they are willing to give me a phone number of PP that work for them and they will help me for FREE… NO MORE HR BLOCK, Im paying you tomorrow and good luck with the rest of your customers. :}


Andy April 25, 2013

.In a statement issued Wednesday, HR block said it is giving customers a $25 gift card that is meant to “account for any processing delay and express thanks for their patience.”

H&R Block said more than 90% of clients affected by the filing glitch by now should have either received their refunds or been told when to expect the check. In mid-March, the Internal Revenue Service said roughly 660,000 tax returns were being delayed by up to six weeks because a field on Form 8863, which is used for educational credits, was left blank.

Wow $25! Do I have to pay tax on that?


Dianne May 30, 2013

Thanks Andy!! But $25 is nutting compare to $300 that they charged me. Giving you guys an update I file my taxes on Feb 2 and today is May 30 and nutting yet. Not even a letter in the mail. This is ridiculous. When I called the IRS they all gave me different information One person even told me that e-file taxes was deleted while was getting process!!! OMG IRS is good to collect the money! I hope i get enough interest


Ken March 15, 2013

8 weeks now and no refund,got a letter saying they needed a copy of form 8863 education credit,called them and was told they already have that form and dont know why letter was sent and to send a copy anyway but can take another 8 weeks,what the heck is this asking for forms they lready hve to delay paying us our refund.Tazes were professionaly prepaired and thier making false claims for forms they have.


Marty Grimell March 12, 2013

It was just reported that H&R Block improperly filed Form 8863, used to claim educational credits, leaving a mandatory field blank. The snafu is impacting about 10% of the 6.6 million tax returns containing Form 8863. So if your refund is taking a while and you used 8863 along with H&R block, get ready for a long wait.


Heide March 15, 2013

Ughh!! Thank you for that information! I filed on Jan 28th through H&R block! It is March 15th! I had an educational credit for my child. I always get in within two weeks and have had and educational credit the past three years. I have called H&R twice and they say they do not know why. I suppose why would they admit it is their fault. Makes me feel a little better. Thank you again.


Garth March 11, 2013

I was able to track down my refund after it was 40 days overdue. The IRS site has some actual information (though finding it took luck and a lot of google searches) which may help to get infomration. Not know is the most frustrating thing, so I hope this helps other people.

1.) You may call the Refund Hotline at 800-829-1954. Where’s My Refund? includes information for the most recent return filed in the current year and does not include information about amended returns. So calling can get you more information than is available online

2.) Processing refunds/returns may take longer under certain circumstances. Refunds from amended returns will generally be issued within 12 weeks. Injured spouse claims can take longer depending on the circumstances

– See Topic 303, for the most common errors such as :
1.Incorrect or missing social security numbers.
2.Incorrect tax entered based on taxable income and filing status.
3.Computation errors in figuring the taxable income, withholding and estimated tax payments, Earned Income Credit, Standard Deduction for age 65 or over or blind, the taxable amount of social security benefits, and child and dependent care credit. Also, missing or incorrect identification numbers for child care providers.
4.Withholding and estimated tax payments entered on the wrong line.
5.Math errors, both addition and subtraction.


Ask Me Fast March 11, 2013

42 days for us and according to the IRS they are still processing it. What angers me is that people who work just enough to get EIC have already recieved theirs. I have used H&R block for years, but since they are beating around the bush with us I think this will be our last year. H&R block fees…bank fees….what a waste of maney when you can`t get your refund.


Heri April 3, 2013

Over 50 days for me!, not easy when your wife and you work paycheck to paycheck, supporting kids on a very tight budget and anxiously wait for your refund for a yearly relieve!. I also want to add that we had filed taxes with H&R block for 6 years straight, this year been the last time!


gail March 11, 2013

The reason it is taking so long for some folks is due to the surge in identity theft. The IRS is taking longer to process/review returns which is yielding success in reducing identity theft but also has a side effect: delayed tax refunds for many legitimate filers.

The IRS says it has strengthened the electronic system used to screen returns for potentially fraudulent refund claims by thieves who often use other people’s Social Security numbers or other identifying information. When the computer detects reason to suspect fraud, it refers a tax return for investigation, holding up the refund for weeks. IRS officials say they have cleared a backlog of returns that were held up early this year by computer glitches that have since been fixed.


Jimmy March 9, 2013

Do you think the sequester is affecting irs processing? Took me 28 days to get my refund and
I only had wage income and no dependents.


Brian March 8, 2013

Yet another reason to adjust your W-4 correctly so that you do not have to worry about a refund at all. It’s better to get the money straight from your employer, rather than filtering it through the government.


Kurt @ Money Counselor March 8, 2013

There’s a lot of tax related id theft going on these days. A crook who’s gained access to your SSN files your return before you do and collects a fat refund. When you file your legitimate return, the IRS is confused. I hope that’s not what’s holding up your reader’s refunds, but it’s possible.


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