eaders of this column on forbes.com have written me numerous times asking for assistance with tax refunds as well as stimulus payments. They want to know what is going on. They want to know, what’s the deal?
Readers speak out
B.W. Georgia wrote: “I am still waiting on my refunds 2020. We filed March 1st, but still have not received any answers. They say that the IRS website is still in progress. They say to use the site. Site says that it is pending. What is the best way to find out?
L.K. L.K. Your article about tax issues caught my attention. I sent my tax return and can’t see if they have received it. “I have tried for two months.”
C.G. Chicago, C.G. It has yet to arrive. … To whom can I talk about this matter?
T.L. T.L. … I called the IRS a few months ago. Apparently, a check would be mailed to me by May 24.
M.M. was laid off and writes “I’m waiting for my refund like so many people who are struggling.” … It frustrates me that people who most need it, those who had children during the pandemic, are not receiving any stimulus money. Our taxes are being held up with no communication.
These people come from very diverse backgrounds and have different circumstances which could cause delays in receiving refunds or stimulus payments. However, one thing is common: they need help. There is no universal solution. We can only get some insight from the IRS. This is what I discovered.
The IRS Responds
The IRS is fully aware of the delays in processing millions of tax returns and will make every effort to provide refunds for those who are still waiting.
A spokesperson for the IRS explained that “if your refund takes longer than expected, we are sorry. We understand how important it can be to issue refunds quickly and process them as quickly as possible. You can rest assured that our staff will work hard, sometimes even overtime, to get your money back.
About 18 million individual returns, some from previous years, were still in the pipeline as of June 5. The IRS hopes to reduce the backlog to zero by the end of this summer.
The spokesperson explained that there are two reasons that could be causing delays in 2020: the Recovery Rebate Credit and the Earned income Tax Credit. According to IRS records, the RRC is the most common reason for delays. A taxpayer who claims a credit is not equal to what they are eligible to receive is the top culprit. The EITC is often a case of a taxpayer who used their 2019 income to calculate the credit. The IRS will need to be able to provide individual attention in both cases. This can lead to the return taking longer.
Are There Other Reasons Your Return Could Be Deferred?
Other delays that could be affecting you particular situation include these items on the IRS website: If the return has been affected by identity theft, fraud, or contains errors or is incomplete. If more information is required, the IRS will contact the taxpayer via mail. It is not known when this might happen.
Refunds processed so far
This won’t help my readers, but IRS filing statistics for week ending June 4, 2021 show that more than 102 million refunds were issued. More than 90% of these were direct-deposited. Weekly updates can be found on IRS.gov under IRS Operations during COVID-19: Mission critical functions continue.
What should you do?
You can call the IRS at 800-829-1040 for assistance, but this is the best way to start.
Visit IRS.gov and go to “Where’s My Refund?” Click on “Check My Refund Status” and enter your Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number, your filing status, and the exact amount of your refund. It has three stages, including (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved and (3) Refund Sent.
According to an IRS spokesperson, the site is updated approximately once per day.
Another option is an IRS App
An IRS online application can provide you with current information about your refund. It can be accessed online or through a mobile device. To access this page, go online to IRS.gov. You’ll find “IRS2Go”, which is the official mobile application of the IRS, that you can download through Google Play, Amazon.com, or Apple.The app will display your refund status. If you have not filed your tax return yet, the app can be used to show you. There are two versions of the app: one in English and one in Spanish.
It won’t help to send in a duplicate return
The IRS spokesperson said that while it may seem like it would help to send an additional copy of your tax return to the IRS, it will not. It will not speed up or slow down the process, he said.
Are There More Opportunities?
It would be beneficial to give people in desperate need (M.M. for example) particular attention. They could contact their U.S. House of Representatives representative in their congressional district. You can find the contact information here. Similar options are available for U.S. senators.
Where is my Stimulus Check?
For people who want to verify the status of their Economic Impact Payments, the “Get My Payment” tool at IRS.gov is still the best way to do so.
EIPs have seen more than 169,000,000 direct deposits and checks, with more than 8,000,000 “plus-up” payments to people who received less or no payment.
You have two options if you’re missing a payment from the stimulus program that you believe you should have received: File a tax return to claim Recovery Rebate Credit or the Non-filer sign-up tool.
If you have not filed a 2020 tax return, but do not owe any taxes, you can file a Return to Claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.
The IRS and Treasury Department announced the Non-Filer Sign-up Tool on June 14, 2021. The tool was created to help families that don’t usually file tax returns register for the monthly advance Child Tax Credit payments. They will begin July 15, but it can also be used by those who don’t file tax returns, who want the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit or their third Economic Impact payment. This tool is an updated version of the IRS Nonfilers version, which debuted last year. It can only be found on IRS.gov
J.D. wrote that this tool could be useful for him. He said: “I need help finding out how to get my stimulus checks. … I am a man struggling every day to make ends meet. I can barely pay my rent and buy groceries for the month. By then, I have barely any money in my bank account.
Overall, assistance is available, but it’s not always as fast as we would like. We are hopeful that we will soon be able to quickly track stimulus payments and refunds when there is a dire need.