IRS: Why is my tax return still being processed?

tax return
1040 income tax form and w-2 wage statement with a federal Treasury refund check. Closeup with selective focusing.
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Thousands of citizens are waiting for their refund while their tax return is being processed, but why is the IRS taking so long?

Since last February, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began to distribute and process the tax returns that, by law, citizens and companies must file year after year.

The deadline to complete the process is May 17. If for any reason you cannot file your before tax return the deadline, the IRS has a deadline to request an extension to the 2020 tax returns, this deadline is October 15.

Usually, once you complete the process, the IRS takes from 3 weeks to two months to refund your taxes, depending on the filing method as well as the payment method. If you filed your return electronically or traditionally (paper) and have a linked bank account, the IRS will take about three weeks to refund the money.

Now, if you did the process in the traditional (paper) or electronic way, but you did not link a bank account and you wait for the refund by mail, then it will take one to two months to reach you.

It is worth mentioning that these are the approximate terms, since the IRS is presenting some delays, so there are tax returns of millions of citizens that have not yet been processed and, therefore, they cannot receive their refund.

IRS: Why is my tax return still being processed?

Because the IRS is currently in charge of distributing the third stimulus check , the government agency has announced that it has a “backlog of millions of returns to process.”

In addition to the IRS delay, your return may also continue to be processed if the paperwork is incomplete or incorrect, and if so, the IRS will send you instructions by mail if additional information is needed to process your return.

If you claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit, your return may also be delayed because the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 requires the IRS you should retain the tax returns of these people for a couple of days.

IRS: How do I know when my refund will arrive?

To check the status of your refund, the IRS has made the ‘ Where’s my refund ‘ tool generally available , through which you will be able to see the status of your refund just 24 hours after the processing of an electronically filed tax return.

How quickly will I receive my refund? 

We issue most refunds in less than 21 calendar days. However, it could take six months or more to process your return if you filed your return on paper. The “Where’s My Refund?” has the latest information available on your refund.

In addition, it is taking the IRS more than 21 days to issue refunds for some tax returns that require review, including incorrect Refund Recovery Credit amounts, or returns where 2019 income was used to calculate the Tax Credit. Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC).

I’m counting on my refund for something important. Can I expect to receive it in 21 days?

There are many things that can affect when we issue your refund after receiving your return. Although we issue most refunds in less than 21 days, your refund may take longer. Also, remember to also take into account the time it takes for your financial institution to post the refund to your account, or for the refund to arrive in the mail.

It has been more than 21 days since the IRS received my return and I have not received my refund. Why? (updated July 7, 2022)

Some returns take longer to process than others for many reasons, including when a return:

  • It was presented on paper
  • You have errors, such as the wrong amount of Refund Recovery Credit
  • It’s incomplete
  • Needs further review overall
  • Is affected by identity theft or fraud
  • Includes a claim for the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. See the questions and answers below.

Casey Harward

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