The IRS Is Really Late Sending out Tax Refunds
Filers can check the status of their tax refund online.
The Internal Revenue Service is reportedly taking longer to send out income tax refund money this year, largely due to the impacts of the coronavirus and a pivoted focus on pumping out stimulus payments and analyzing taxes paid on unemployment insurance.
The pandemic forced the IRS to close several of its processing centers for weeks, setting the agency back on reviewing, processing, and disbursing coronavirus-related federal aid to millions of Americans and families. While the IRS has reopened, COVID-19 “continues to cause delays in some of our services,” according to the agency.
The IRS typically sends out tax refunds within twenty-one days, but some are taking longer than expected, including refunds that were filed on paper. The IRS noted that it could take longer than twenty-one days to receive income tax refund money if the filer qualifies for the Recovery Rebate Credit, which allows them to claim any of the $1,200 or $600 from the first two rounds of stimulus payments.
The agency reported a number of reasons for a delay in getting the refund money, including that it includes errors; it’s incomplete; it’s impacted by identity theft or fraud; it features a claim for an earned income tax credit or an additional child tax credit; it includes Form 8379, injured spouse allocation, which could take 14 weeks to process; and it needs further review.
It’s also important to consider the way the filer sent in their return. If filed with the option to receive the money via direct deposit into a bank account, that could take up to five additional days for a bank to post it in an account. That means it could take as long as twenty-six days to see the money.
And for those who submitted a tax return by mail, the IRS noted that it could take six to eight weeks for a tax refund to hit the mailbox.
But filers can check the status of their tax refund online. The IRS offers a Where’s My Refund Tool, which requires filers to enter their Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, filing status—single, married, or head of household—and the expected refund amount. But first, it is encouraged to wait 24 hours after they file to check the status.
The IRS also offers a mobile app, called IRS2Go, that allows tax filers to check where their refund money is.
Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, and The Hill.