The common cry from taxpayers this year has been “I haven’t received my refund… what did YOU do wrong?!” Alas, me and preparers like me didn’t do anything wrong.. the issue is a chronic underfunding of the IRS.
According to the IRS Taxpayer Advocate, as of 5/1/21 the IRS had 8.8 million returns in Error Resolution status, 15.8 million unprocessed 2019 and 2020 paper-filed returns, and 5.5 million returns with processing errors or suspected identity theft issues. That is over 30 million returns that need to be touched by a person.
According to TIGTA some of the backlog is because of a lack of working printers and copiers. More than 42% of these machines used by the Submission Processing are unusable because they are “out of ink or because the waste cartridge container is full.”
Add to this staffing shortages, low morale, massive tax law changes DURING tax season, and asking the IRS to manage public welfare programs that should not be in their scope including delivering stimulus payments DURING tax season under a convoluted calculation methodology and sending out advanced child tax credits using a convoluted calculation methodology…. ahh yes, now we can see why there are so many delays getting returns processed and refunds issued.
What can you do?
- Be patient.
- Check the status of your refund on a weekly basis (links below).
- If it says your return is still being processed then there is very little anyone can do to speed it up other than write your Congressperson and ask them to fully fund the IRS.
- If it says you need to take action then you likely received a letter in the mail with additional information needed.
- If it says the refund has been issued, check your bank account (direct deposit) or your mailbox (paper check).
Links to see the status of your refund