Your Tax Return Is Still Being Processed


The IRS will issue most refunds in less than 21 calendar days.

Even though the IRS will issue most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible that your refund has been delayed because it is stuck in processing.

There are many different reasons why your refund may have not been processed yet, but the most common include:

  • Your tax return included errors.
  • Your tax return is incomplete. This could mean that all of the necessary forms were not sent to the IRS for processing.
  • Your return has been flagged for identity theft or fraud. If any social security number on your return has already been submitted for a particular tax year, your return will be flagged and delayed until it has been manually reviewed.
  • If your return includes a claim filed for an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or an Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) your return will be delayed. These credits are typically delayed for additional review. According to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS cannot issue EITC and ACTC refunds before mid-February.

If your refund is delayed is does not automatically mean that you’re being selected for an audit. The IRS will contact you by mail if and when they need any additional information from you to process your return.

Should I call the IRS if my return is being processed?

The IRS representatives can only research the status of your refund 21 days after you filed electronically or six weeks after you mailed your paper return.

If you are beyond the 21-day threshold, here are the steps I recommend taking to determine why your refund is still being processed.

  1. Use the Where’s My Refund tool on the IRS website to determine the current status. This tool updates the status of your refund nightly. If there are updates, they will be automatically posted to this page.
  2. If no updates are available using the online tool, use these instructions to reach a real person at the IRS. Diligently follow these instructions and you will avoid being stuck in the IRS phone tree.

The IRS refund status bar has disappeared. Where’s my refund?

Many taxpayers have mentioned that the status bar has disappeared when they check the status of their refund on the IRS website. Unfortunately, this is a bug on the IRS refund tool and doesn’t mean anything regarding the status of your refund.

IRS Code 414: Retirement Plans and Your Taxes

IRS Code 162: What Is an Ordinary and Necessary Business Expense?


Amy Northard, CPA

The Accountant for Creatives®
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