The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is having some trouble getting refunds to taxpayers. And now many of those taxpayers are wondering when they’ll finally get their hands on the money they’re owed.

A growing number of taxpayers are now complaining that weeks after they filed their tax returns, they still haven’t received their refunds. It’s a problem: In the vast majority of cases, the IRS tries to get refunds to taxpayers within three weeks of their return filings. But a combination of COVID-19 restrictions and stimulus efforts has sidelined refunds and prompted delays.

Read on for a brief FAQ on what’s happening — and why. And as always, contact your Perlson LLP professional at 516-541-0022 if you have any questions.

Why are IRS refunds delayed?

In an FAQ page on its website, the IRS has issued some context on why refunds are delayed. For one, the agency says, it was forced to operate at restricted capacity during the height of the pandemic, leaving it with fewer people and resources to process returns. Although the IRS is now operating at full capacity, a backlog exists that it must wade through as it processes paper returns, correspondence, and more.

That said, the IRS said that in many cases, it’s still able to meet its 21-day deadline on refunds. Those who paper file or returns that require manual processing, however, tend to fall past that deadline.

How can I tell why my refund was delayed?

The IRS has offered a handy list of reasons your tax refund may have been delayed. And although it’s not necessarily an exhaustive list, if you fall into any of the following categories, there’s a good chance your refund is still outstanding:

There were errors in your return.
You filed your return before it was completed.
The IRS has flagged your return for fraud or identity theft.
You qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit.
The IRS wants more time to review your return.
Your return has an attached Form 8379 for an injured spouse allocation.

How can I find out the status of my refund?

Regardless of whether your situation falls into any of the aforementioned reasons a refund has been delayed, you can easily determine the status of your refund at this IRS tracking tool. You’ll need to input your Social Security number, filing status (Single, Married Filing Jointly, Head of Household) and refund amount into the Where’s My Refund tool. With any luck at all, the tool will tell you the status of your refund and about when you should be receiving it.

Generally, you’ll see one of three status messages on your refund: Received, Approved, Sent. Received means the IRS is still processing your return and Approved means the IRS agrees with your tax return and will pay you the amount you believe you’re owed. Sent means your refund has been sent to you.

When should I expect my IRS refund?

That’s a tough question to answer. As noted, the IRS usually aims at paying refunds within three weeks. But with some taxpayers still waiting months to receive their refund, there’s no telling when the IRS will finally process your return and payment. If your return is held up because of an IRS inquiry or any other issue, please contact Perlson LLP immediately so we can help you address IRS concerns and get your tax return processed.

Will the IRS pay me interest for the delay?

Despite the delay, there is some good news in the IRS being slow to issue your refund: the agency is required by law to pay interest for each day you don’t receive your refund. So, don’t be surprised if your refund check is a bit heftier than you expect when you finally receive your cash.

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