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]
I 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.