12 Responds: Why have I not received my federal tax refund yet?


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — This year, the tax deadline was extended to May 17, but 12 News continues to hear from viewers who say they filed much earlier than that and still haven’t gotten the refund they’re owed.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says it still has 16.8 million unprocessed individual tax returns as of July 3.

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who chairs the subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight, says there are a number of reasons behind the backlog, including the reduction of in-person staffing at the IRS due to the pandemic and the mailing out of stimulus checks during tax season.

“I’m pushing for more funding for the IRS so that the agency has the resources to handle demands and prevent these kinds of delays,” Whitehouse said in a statement to 12 News.

Several viewers have written into 12 Responds saying they’re still waiting on their federal returns, like one person who wrote: “I e-filed and it is past the 21 days which they usually take to send out return. Why is there a holdup?”

Melissa Travis, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Society of CPAs, passed along information from the office of the IRS Stakeholder Liaison team, which says while the IRS opens and processes tax returns in the order they’re received, there may be a delay if there’s a mistake or suspected identity theft or fraud.

If the return can be fixed without needing to contact the taxpayer, the IRS will do so, according to Travis, but additional information or verification may be needed to correct an issue.

“This work does require special handling by an IRS employee so, in these instances, it is taking the IRS more than 21 days to issue any related refund,” Travis said.

If there’s an issue with a return, the IRS will send a letter to the taxpayer, so Travis said the length of the delay can depend on how quickly and accurately the response is received.

Taxpayers are also reminded to make sure they received an acknowledgement that their return was accepted.

For those who filed electronically and got the acknowledgement, Travis said no further action is needed except to promptly respond to any requests for more information.

Those who filed by paper can check the status of their refund through the IRS website.

In an effort to minimize delays, the IRS says it’s rerouting returns and taxpayer correspondence from locations that are behind to others where more staff is available.

12 Responds: Send us your question or concern »

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