Why Is It Taking So Long To Get My Tax Refund and Why Your 2019 Refund May Be Delayed by the IRS

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. This is no different in the current tax season where a number of folks have commented on potential and actuals delays with their refunds.

In fact for the current tax season the IRS has already announced that there will likely be tax refund payment delays due to the January Government shutdown and existing tax code changes. In particular for those claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) refunds may not be processed until after February 15 (with payments coming 2 weeks later) in order to perform further identity verification checks. Keeping checking WMR for updates and exact dates on your refund payment. You should no longer be seeing the PATH message as a blocker to get your refund processed and paid. If held up for other reasons (see below) you will get the applicable message/follow-up action.

Other reasons your refund may be delayed per the IRS

  • Additional or random security checks – especially if fraudulent activities were associated with your filing in the past
  • Amended returns require additional, and manual processing, which can see refunds delayed for up to 16 weeks
  • Missing or incomplete documentation or information in your return (most online tax filing software checks for this, but manually filed returns are more at risk)
  • Incorrect bank details or account numbers provided in your return (see below for how to address)
  • If you are using a pre-paid card for the first time and were using a middleman bank (SBBT, Republic, Bofi, etc), some people have had their refund not deposited because the middleman bank does not test deposits to ensure the account is active and correct
  • You filed an injured spouse claim
  • Refund claims with an application for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) attached (see Topic 857 for more information on this)
  • If you requested a refund of tax withheld on a Form 1042-S (PDF) by filing a Form 1040NR (PDF), allow up to 6 months from the original due date of the 1040NR return or the date you actually filed the 1040NR, whichever is later, to receive any refund due (see more details in tax topic 152)

Here is a sampling of comments from the current and past tax seasons around IRS refund payment delays:

So basically if you claim your children/EIC are you going to be delayed? We’ve claimed the same every year I just don’t get it. I filed in early January with a tax service and they didn’t mention the delay. I’m going to assume it’s not going to be deposited in the next week like we were told. This really bums me out [Amanda]

I’ve file the same job for 9yrs same two kids they shouldn’t make us wait. They should go after the people who’s file fake returns it’s the hard working people money they taking anyways [GrayLady].

Help me please. 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]

I’ve carried my child for 20yrs. I don’t understand why they have to wait [to send me my refund]! Every year it gets worst! We want what belongs to us! [Sharon]. Well I filed early and still WMR [where is my refund] says still processing ugh IRS told me to wait till 21 days before I call them. [Shirley]

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]

Mine got accepted on Jan 22nd and it has been 20 days. WMR does not show the bar on where’s my refund nor a date. Just says that it is still being processed and a date will be available soon. I called the IRS and they said that I had to verify my identity and had to call another number and verify some information and was put on hold about 3 times. Then said it had been verified and it would take 9 weeks for me to get my refund. Help! [Alex]

Tax Season Refund processing by the numbers (from WalletHub) : Average Wait time for IRS calls – 30.5 Minutes (62% unanswered); 700%+: Increase in tax-related identity theft cases vs 23% Decrease in IRS enforcement staff since 2010.

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

There are two main categories that cause your tax refund processing to taking longer than expected. Either something is wrong with your tax return filing, e.g. missing information, additional Identity fraud/verification (details below),  incorrect social security numbers etc; or information from related sources (employer, ex-partner) do not add up. For example same dependent 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 (WMR) or IRS2Go mobile app, to get the official status of your refund (see estimated IRS refund schedule). It is updated daily (overnight) 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 (not business days). So even if you have submitted all your documents you probably need to wait for at least 21 days before taking on more drastic actions. And if you paper filed, you may need to wait more than 6 weeks before hearing back from the IRS.

IRS bars offical - Where is My Refund (WMR) Return Received, Refund Approved and Refund Sent

  • 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 processing 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 via WMR to Return Received, Refund Approved and Refund Sent. See this article for more details on what the WMR refund status’ mean.
  • What do these IRS refund status’ mean? Return Received means the IRS has your tax return and is processing/reviewing it. Your estimated refund date will be available as soon as the IRS finishes processing your return and confirm that your refund has been approved. Generally it takes just a few days for the status to shift from Return Received to Refund Approved if all is in order. But any issues with processing your return will delay things and a refund date will not be provided until your refund has been approved.In some cases the refund tracker graphic (shown here) will not be shown if your return is being reviewed prior to step two: “Refund Approved,” and instead an explanation or instructions will be provided by the IRS depending on the situation. This can happen even if you previously checked Where’s My Refund? and it showed the status as “Return Received” along with the tracker. If the IRS needs more information specific to your return, they will contact you by mail (be aware of IRS imitation scams). You should follow the instructions in the IRS letter as soon as possible to prevent further delays with receiving your return.
  • Review your tax return and make sure there no obvious mistakes like missing names/SSN or forgetting to sign your tax return. According to the IRS, one of the main things causing people to experience delays in getting their refunds is returns that are not accurately completed. So to ensure you get your refund ensure your return is as accurate as possible. 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.
  • Get online help from various articles on people seeing delays with their refunds. On one of my articles covering the IRS refund schedule I got 7000+ comments, with the following useful real life tips you won’t find elsewhere:

Obamacare forms for are still causing a lot of delays : I (Jeff) filed Jan 20…accepted Jan 21. I received a letter about affordable care act on Feb 10 requesting a new 1095. Sent them the forms same day. I called them a week later and nobody would talk to me until we waited the 4-6 weeks as stated on the letter. Called 4 weeks later and they confirmed that they accepted the forms and updated affordable care act on my return and should receive a return within 7days. On day 7 march 16, I received a letter stating more info was needed. I finally spoke with someone who was willing to share info at the IRS. Because I lost my job and income was cut in half between 2013-2014, I was considered highly likely someone trying to commit fraud. They said I can’t get any info until 45 days after my income verification letter which is April 30.

If you have debt or penalties from the prior year, you may see a long delay in your refund or offsets to what you expected refund. Jessica filed her taxes and they were accepted on 1/22/2015. After the 21 days past [Jessica] contacted the IRS who advised there was a hold on my taxes but they couldn’t tell me what for. At this time I had error code 570 on my tax transcript. The said they had to send a referral off to have someone look at my taxes to see what was wrong…i had to give them 30 days to review my info. After the 30 day time frame I called the IRS back the agent advised no one had reviewed my tax info there for they had to send it back off and I had to wait another 30 days for them to review it. A couple of weeks after the 2nd phone call to the IRS i got another code on my transcript of 896 Refund applied to non-IRS debt with my full refund amount to the side of it…I called the IRS back to see what the code was …the agent advised my refund was sent over to the Department of the Treasury so they could pull whatever amount i owed out (witch turns out was the OBAMA fee for not having Ins. last year even through the Irs agent I spoke with advised it was not). The IRS agent advised that from looking at my transcript it seemed like they were taking my full refund even through I do not owe anything to them. A few days later i checked my transcript…there was a new code of 892 Correction to interest credit transferred out. Now I am still waiting for my refund and cant call the IRS back until 4/27.

  • 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 (under PATH act). 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.Here is a way to get a real IRS person:
    • Dial 800-829-1040 – if they say they have high volume calls hang up, you’re wasting your time, call again until it doesn’t say high volume.
    • Then dial 1- for English or 2 for Spanish.
    • Then listen to the options and dial 2 then 1 then 4, then 2 again, until it finally asks for your social… they will try to trick you after that, but don’t dial anything it will take you to an operator. it’s a process but you’ll get to someone as long as you DO NOT say you have questions about your refund, cause then it will tell you to go online. make sure your cell is charge when you call cause you can wait up till an hour. Good luck people, and hope we all get our refund. Heck, we worked for it!!! =)
  • Check with the middleman bank (SBBT, Republic, Bofi, etc) that they received your refund and sent it to your personal account. If filed jointly make sure both names are on your bank account/pre-paid card as this can sometimes cause your refund to be held or rejected.

Tax Payer Identify Verification Delaying IRS Tax Refund Processing and Direct Deposit Payments

In a lot of recent cases, it appears that the IRS is delaying refund processing because they are having to spend a lot more time validating tax payer identities given the rise in online tax related fraud over the last few years. In most cases the IRS will notify selected tax filers via WMR or mail (they will never call you) to contact a IRS number to verify their identity. After verification it could take up to 9 weeks for you to get a refund. See more in this article.

Refund Offset – Why Your Refund May be less than expected

Another area of confusion for those expecting a refund is that when they get a refund it is actually less than the amount they were expecting or provided by their e-filing tool. The reason for this is that the federal government has “offset” or deducted monies from your tax refund to cover debts you owe other federal agencies. Under the law, federal payments such as tax refunds can be collected against by approved agencies (e.g the IRS) before being paid to you. You will get  a letter from the IRS explaining this offset to your federal refund and why it differs from what was estimated in your filed return. They will give you an opportunity to dispute this collection, but you will have to prove you had no federal obligations. If you have questions regarding the offset of your refund you can call the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) on 800-304-3107.

When will I get my paper check if my Direct Deposit is delayed or rejected?

At times people will change their bank accounts after their return is filed or provide incorrect account numbers. In these instances the IRS will issue a paper check when they cannot send by direct deposit. This will delay your refund, but the actually IRS processing time for a paper check  is only 2 extra days more than direct deposit. Usually paper checks are mailed on Friday’s and you usually get within 1 week; the following Friday or sooner. The US Postal usually don’t deliver refund checks until Saturday morning to prevent someone watching your mail and stealing the check.

If I can order my IRS tax transcript does it mean I am getting my refund direct deposited soon?

This question comes up a lot and I have seen a few comments on this as shown below.

Tracie – If you can get your tax return transcript then you will have your DD within two days I hope this helps someone GOD BLESS AND I HOPE WE ALL GET OURS IN A TIMELY MANNER SINCE THE FIX IN THE SYSTEM

Ashley – Filed and accepted on the 19th. Still can’t order transcripts online or over the phone. No info available in WMR. Says still processing. I seen on another forum that the IRS does bulk approvals on Sundays and Wednesdays, so I’m PRAYING I am part of that chaos so I can get my money this week! Never had to wait this long.

jessew – I have talked to the IRS and they finally moved my bar from 1 bar to 2 approved this morning. Go to the home page and request for a transcript if it goes through they have processed ur taxes that is what the irs lady tolled me. good luck everyone

Estella – I ordered my transcripts yesterday and was able to. If you are able to do so then you’re taxes have approved. Transcript have to be accurate because they are used for loan purposes. I filed on the 23 and was accepted same day. This morning I was approved with a DDD of 02/10.

Yes there is a correlation because to get a transcript the IRS generally has to have processed your tax return (and refund where applicable) and are an official IRS document. But the IRS is very clear that being able to request a transcript does not mean you will imminently be getting a refund and is among the common myths and misconceptions repeated in social media. They still say that checking the WMR tool is the best and official way to check your refund status.

However I have been seeing a lot of comments from people saying that when the WMR site provides limited information on the refund, requesting a free IRS transcript seems to be another way of checking the status of the refund. Generally if you can request a transcript, it means the refund is on the way and the IRS has completed processing of your tax return. But this is all anecdotal evidence.

Tax Topic 151 vs 152 notice

When you log on to the WMR website or IRS2Go mobile app, you may be presented with a message to refer to IRS Tax topic 151 or 152 in relation to your refund. But what do these mean? Tax Topic 151 simply means that you’re getting a tax offset (see above) which may result in your refund being less than you expected. You will get an official IRS letter/report explaining the actual offset and adjustments to your tax return, and details on how to appeal this action – but likely it will delay you getting your refund. While not great news, the silver lining here is that the IRS has processed your return and your adjusted refund (where applicable) should be on its way.

Tax Topic 152 on the other hand means means you’re getting a tax refund in line with IRS processing guidelines (generally within 21 days) and this notice confirm the methods for payment (direct deposit, check).

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 tax advocate or tax professional if you get nowhere with the IRS.

I will continue to update this article and if the information here was useful please consider liking this page via Facebook and other social media channels to spread the love.

680 thoughts on “Why Is It Taking So Long To Get My Tax Refund and Why Your 2019 Refund May Be Delayed by the IRS

  1. Julianna

    Filed my tax return in FEBRUARY 2019. It is now AUGUST 2019 & STILL NO REFUND!! No new update either!! anyone else? This is just absurd my boyfriend and i filed same day and he got his return in 5 days!

  2. None of us business

    Same here filed my tax return an Feb 30 and got a letter saying it was being verified by idnk who so haded to waite 9 weeks called today 7/30/19 and they said gotta waite 60 more days that they were gonna send a referral what kind of bs is this fuck Donald Trump.l.

  3. Neke

    I filed in February, now it’s almost the end of July, still no refund and no answers…smdh.

  4. Warren

    Day 129… still no refund!! Submitted return March 3rd, accepted Mar4th.
    Notice 152 on IRS website
    Received a ltr 4464 on April 12th stating they are verifying info.

    Still no word… very sad!

  5. LInda G Foos

    I filed my taxes on February 17 and I received a letter in March that I needed to be identified. On April 3 I went into the IRS office with a copy of my tax return and my ID. When the lady looked everything over I was told it would take 9 weeks to get my return. Then on May 10 I received a letter saying they were going over my tax return for accuracy and I would hear from them in 60 days. Today is 60 days and I haven’t heard from the IRS. It is not like I itemized my return I did the short form so there isn’t much to look over. Here I sit waiting on the phone waiting to talk to someone.

  6. joannelacrosse

    We filed 1/17/2019 it was accepted 1/21/2019 and had to verify our identity, done, told 9 weeks more or less, then got a letter saying 60 days, waited and nothing, called and told 30 days, waited, nothing. I called Friday just before the 4th of July and got told I’d have it August 4th or sooner. Then TODAY July 6th we got another letter saying another 60 effing days. Wtaf is going on? If we owed they’d be banging our doors down. I am so aggravated. We lost our vehicle due to a blown transmission and we have been counting on our return to get another vehicle. I have missed so many doctors appointments it’s sickening. They need to get off their as$ and fix this. Too many hard workers waiting in what is rightfully theirs.

  7. Paula Vicente

    My return was accepted on Feb 4th. Today is JULY 2ND.. WTF!…I got bills a car that needs fixing and I was unemployed for 4 months and need to pay back money I borrowed because of not working. I’M CONFUSED AND VERY, VERY PISSED!

  8. Anna

    Our taxes were filed as of 4/12/19, e-filed with direct deposit information. As of today 6/26/19 I am still in processing status. This seems really strange to me. Unless they are holding monies from us in order to gain interest on the amount due tax payers. Point to ponder. Still waiting…still needing MY money back.

  9. Summer

    I e-filed my 2018 return on April 7th.
    I received an email stating my return was accepted by the IRS on that same
    day (4/7) – the WMR site states,
    “your tax return is still being processed” (today’s date is 6/21) I am a single mother, claiming one child, filing head of household. I work full time as a nurse in a Physician’s office. I have filed the same way over the last 20 years, and I’ve never had to wait this long in the past. The only thing different this year is, I’m claiming only one child, because my other 2 are over 18 now, and out of the house. This is the first year I’ve only claimed one child. Due to my income, I qualify for the child tax credit, but everything else is straight forward. Unfortunately, I don’t receive child support, and rely on my tax return every year, to pay down credit cards and medical bills. This is money I’ve already earned, and belongs to me… a law abiding, tax paying, American citizen. I’m feeling taken advantage of, and beyond frustrated. I’ve tried calling and can’t get a live person. I tried calling a tax advocate, but no one answered. I left a detailed voicemail, and have not received a call back. I am so incredibly tired of having to fight so damn hard, for money that belongs to me. I need the money for groceries and bills, not some kind of lavish vacation…. single moms don’t get those. So frustrated.
    Thanks for listening.

  10. Kyle

    I have to say, it’s nice seeing others having to wait this long. Filed Feb 4th, its June 21st and it still shows processing even though I received a letter stating May 30th at the latest everything would be finalized.

    I don’t know if anyone else has called but they are no help. I brought up the letter to the agent and they said it didn’t matter and had a completely different timeline for me…

  11. Andrew J

    I filed my taxes with my wife on febuary 14th or 15th, i filed by turbo tax and added injured spouse claim due to possible past due child support from my wife, i waited 11 weeks then called to ask about where everyting was. they told me june 6th they will be processing it again and that they havent recieved an offset yet. its now june 12th, no change. is this normal

  12. Dia

    I filed early Feb 2019.
    Its JUNE!!!
    Still no refund. Still no status update. Going to try calling Friday. But I doubt I’ll get anywhere.

  13. Carrie

    I filed march 4th needed to file by paper due to itin number not being sent to me at new address they waited untill may 30 th to even release my refund for processing now I have to wait another 9 weeks . What kind of crap is this. I have children and need to get a car asap where I live has no kind of public transportation so I’m spending 200 a week in a cab to get to and from work. But these frauds got their money I bet.

    1. Libia

      Every time you call and a person answering you will be sent back again 9 weeks

  14. Honey

    I did my taxes around January 9/10 I swear it got accepted like a day later! I thought it was a little fast and was expecting an email saying they denied it. Instead I’ve gotten 3 letters since then and it’s June 5th! I was told that they needed “more information” but I’m trying to figure out how much more info they need! Anyway 6months into the year and still no refund for me!

    1. Melissa

      My exact issue, filed March 20th still processing today June 18 . That’s absurd

  15. Joe

    Its been 13 weeks I filed me and my wife and my girls and its with a injured spouse form we owed back taxes for 2016 thanks to Jackson Hewitt messing up oir taxes that year they said they would take it out of my refund and release the rest of my refund owed to me and I haven’t received a letter from the irs or anything this is stupid ive never had to wait this long and I have called them and everything.

  16. Tiffany

    I filed my income tax the beginning of February 2019, got accepted the same day and I knew I had to wait because of the EIC then I got a letter stating that it would be processed Mid March then nothing ever came, got another letter saying I would get it the beginning of May or another letter would be sent to me by that date. I never got my tax refund or a letter so I called and the lady said she saw nothing wrong with my income tax return so she escalated it which started the next 30 day waiting period… its 5/29/2019 and still no progress but currently waiting on hold

    1. joannelacrosse

      I got told 30 days too, but the guy I called the other day said it’s never 30 days so he didn’t know why I got told that and I keep getting letters with in 3 days of calling saying another 30 days

  17. Tavari

    I filed mine on the 28 of January n I been waiting 5 months total for mine n still don’t have anything ??????


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