Tax Refund Delayed? It Could Take Years – What You Need to Know

A refund check usually arrives within 21 days of filing a return.

Tax Refund Delayed: A refund check usually arrives within 21 days of filing a return. Unlucky taxpayers may have to wait for years.

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There can be delays in refunds when the Internal Revenue Service flags a return for a variety of reasons. There could be an error, an inconsistency, or an indication of possible identity theft. Taxpayers might not receive an explanation.

According to the IRS, 686,000 individual tax returns were awaiting processing as of Dec. 21 – mostly refunds due from last year.

Also Read: Child Tax Credit: Guidelines for Claiming a Child on Taxes When Married and Filing Separately

During this time of year, many Americans rely on their refund checks to pay down debts and make ends meet. The IRS said extreme refund delays are rare and have been exacerbated by recent backlogs in pending returns.

686,000 individual returns are awaiting processing as of Dec. 21, the latest IRS data available – mostly from last tax season and most due refunds. The backlog has reduced since the pandemic. There are 600,000 corrected or special handling returns in the queue, along with 844,000 amended returns.

Refunds that get stuck in purgatory, as in Horan’s case, should be escalated beyond the regular IRS customer service line, tax advisers advise.

Also Read: Tax Day 2024 Deadline: When is the Last Day to File Your Taxes?

When will the IRS send a refund?

While tax returns have to be filed by April 15, the IRS does not have a deadline for issuing refund checks. After 45 days, the government must pay interest, which resets quarterly.

If the refund is delayed, taxpayers should check the “Where’s My Refund” website. They would need to enter their Social Security number or taxpayer identification number, their filing status and the expected refund amount.

According to Twila Midwood, an enrolled agent in Rockledge, Florida, if a refund doesn’t appear within six weeks, filers should contact the IRS.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service, a watchdog that helps taxpayers resolve IRS issues, can assist if that fails.

When a delay in a refund causes financial hardship to a filer, the Taxpayer Advocate Service can intervene.

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