(WSPA) – What’s worse than doing your taxes? Not getting your refund. Millions of Americans are still wondering what’s holding up their checks.
In this 7NEWS Consumer Exclusive, Tax Refund Delays, we looked into what is behind the delay and what you should do to make sure you get your money.
Before the pandemic, the IRS typically delivered refunds to e-filers within three weeks and paper filers within about six.
Melissa Scruggs, in Cowpens, has been waiting more than four months.
”My taxes was [sic] mailed April 5 and I still haven’t heard anything about it. Every time you go On the website there is no information. Every time you try to call the IRS there is no information. You can never get in touch with a live person,” Scruggs said.
7NEWS asked IRS Enrolled Agent Dan Thomas with Jackson Hewitt how bad the delay is compared to previous years. “This is the worst we’ve ever seen,” he said.
REPORT ON DELAY
Thomas, who has been preparing taxes for 30 years, points to a recent National Taxpayer Advocate report that shows at the end of May the agency had a backlog of more than 21 million paper returns.
“They admit that the backlog is completely crushing the IRS,” Thomas said.
Over the summer that backlog has been reduced, but there are still millions of returns that have not been reviewed, and refunds that have not been issued.
WHAT RETURNS GET DELAYED?
So, what’s holding them up? For one, a staffing shortage.
But also factors on your return like:
- earned income credit
- child tax credit
- stimulus check reporting errors
- incorrect or missing information
- possible identity theft or tax fraud
- filing on paper
Scruggs said unfortunately she had to file on paper since she’s had issues claiming her dependents. Those three kids are the very reason this single mother said she needed that $3,000 refund yesterday.
”I work two jobs so it’s rough,” Scruggs said.
Darleen Timmerman, in Laurens, said she hasn’t even received her 2020 refund yet.
“It’s frustrating and it’s aggravating, but what can you do? You just sit and wait,” Timmerman said.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR REFUND STATUS
Thomas said the most important step to making sure you eventually get your refund is to check your refund status with the IRS
Go to IRS.gov, click “Get Your Refund Status,” then click the blue bar.
You will need to enter your Social Security Number, filing status (married filing jointly, single, head of household) and exact refund amount.
You can also try calling the IRS at 800-829-1040, but like Scruggs, you may never get through.
Generally, if your refund is delayed by 45 days the IRS will pay interest. And on July 1st that increased from 4 to 5%.
But don’t get too excited, that interest will be taxed.
HOW TO MAKE A HARDSHIP REQUEST
If your delayed return is causing you financial hardship, you can reach out to the Taxpayer Advocate Service to see if you qualify for help (877-777-4778).
This is for serious financial situations like eviction notices and utility cutoffs.
WHEN SHOULD YOU EXPECT YOUR REFUND?
Thomas said the waiting game will likely continue, especially for paper filers for the months to come.
”Some of these refunds may not be coming till Nov or Dec,” Thomas said.