If you wonder whether the IRS continues to struggle with delays that kept so many people from receiving their 2020 income tax refunds or having their returns processed promptly, then the answer is a qualified yes. The IRS says that refunds, in certain cases, might be delayed 90 to 120 days due to a combination of reasons.1 Here are some factors contributing to these delays and what you can do to track your refund.
Why Do Delays Continue?
These delays first began during the early days of the pandemic when the IRS reduced operations to "mission-critical" functions just as the 2019 tax season was in full swing. Add to that the fact that more returns than before had errors, the IRS was involved in the process of issuing several stimulus payments during 2020, tax laws changed significantly between 2019 and 2020, and many IRS employees continue to work remotely. It's no wonder that operation speeds have slowed. 1
Unfortunately, this comes as little comfort to those anxiously awaiting their refunds or needing their returns to be processed quickly. Because it is difficult to get an IRS representative on the phone these days, taxpayers may find it frustrating to get answers to their return- and refund-related questions.
How Can You Track the Status of Your Refund?
There are a few tools you can use to assess your refund status.
First, the IRS has the Where's My Refund tool to track your refund by entering your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), your filing status, and your exact refund amount.2
You can also use a downloadable mobile app made by the IRS called IRS2Go, to check your tax refund status. The app is available in either English or Spanish. This app informs you that the IRS received your return, when it is approved and when your refund is processed. Once your refund is processed, you get a date to expect either a check or a direct deposit into your bank account.
Finally, if the Where's My Refund tool or IRS2Go tells you to contact the IRS, you can call the agency at (800) 829-1040 or (800) 829-8374. You can also make an appointment at your local IRS office by calling (844) 545-5640.3 Because it can take a while to get someone on the phone at the IRS, and it may take weeks or even months to get an in-person appointment, calling the IRS when you did not get instructions to call, is an option of last resort.
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