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Millions of Americans are still waiting on their tax refunds from the IRS. Here's why

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Posted at 12:10 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 12:21:49-04

Millions of taxpayers still have not received their 2021 tax refund and are growing frustrated with a lack of information from the IRS.

Refunds that used to arrive in two weeks are now three months late, with no updates as to when they might go out.

Mike Seidenman is among those who are frustrated. He filed electronically back in February and expected a quick refund of a couple of thousand dollars.

"I keep checking, and all the IRS says is that it is pending," he said. "Normally, it's immediate. Last year we filed and got our refund a week or 10 days later."

Hospital worker Carol Abel is in the same situation.

"When I was checking the IRS website, it did finally say, 'We have your return, but they are still working on it,'" she said. "I have been getting that ever since."

Cynthia Jenkins says her son has been hit with a double whammy.

"He's still waiting on last year's tax refund and his stimulus checks," she said. "He never got either one."

IRS explains the reason for record delays

The IRS now admits it is woefully behind on millions of both paper and electronic returns.

The agency recently informed Congress it has a backlog of 35 million unprocessed returns, a record for the month of July.

It blames staffing issues, new tax laws, stimulus checks and now the child tax credit, all of which go through its computers.

Congress gave the IRS the role of distributing hundreds of millions of stimulus checks over the past year without any additional staffing.

The IRS admits it is only getting started processing paper returns because the stimulus program set it back several months.

Carol Abel thinks they need more help immediately.

"If they don't have many people working in the office, they will never get anything done," she said.

Why your refund may be delayed

The IRS says refunds could take extra time if taxpayers:

  • Filed for the Earned Income Tax credit
  • Requested a missing stimulus check
  • Were unemployed last year and received federal unemployment or PUA benefits
  • Were one of the millions of victims of unemployment ID theft
  • Made an error on a return

The agency suggests taxpayers keep checking the "Where's My Refund?" page at the IRS website.

Those looking for a status on a refund can call the IRS at 800-829-1040, but the agency admits that fewer than 10% of people have been able to reach the agency by phone because it has received millions of calls this year.

Seidenman, Abel and Jenkins are losing patience.

"It's money we definitely could use," Seidenman said.

As always, don't waste your money.

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