Illustration for article titled When to Expect Your Late IRS RefundPhoto: 24K production (Shutterstock)

Due to a backlog of tax returns from the IRS, millions of Americans experience weeks of delays in getting their tax refunds, well beyond a typical processing time of three weeks. The IRS did confirmed the delay, but why is it taking so long – and when can you expect your refund?

Delays can be up to 10 weeks

While the IRS states that around 90% of applicants’ tax returns were filed within three weeks, up to 29 million tax returns have been marked for manual processing, which has caused delays to date up to ten weeks have since started filing tax returns on February 12th (IRS Assistant apparently this suggested timelinealso reachable by phone).

According to the Taxpayer Advocate ServiceA understaffed IRS is facing an unusually large backlog of 2020 tax returns that need manual processing in mid-2020 tax season due to pandemic relief laws, economic reviews, and changes to complicated tax credits. Returns marked for manual processing include the following:

  • Request the Earned Income Tax Credit or an Additional Child Tax Credit
  • Potential problems with identity theft or fraud
  • Tax returns that require an adjustment to the Recovery Rebate Credit (in other words, your recovery payment)

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Unfortunately, the delays came without warning, making it impossible for taxpayers to know exactly when to expect a refund (a recent one) Loan tree study shows 75% of taxpayers qualified for a refund averaging $ 3,660 for 2019).

How to track the status of your tax return

You can check the status of your refunds using the IRS. Where is my refund? Tool on or with the IRS2GO App on your smartphone. However, these tools are limited as they only tell you that the return has been received, approved, or sent. Many filers have a “received” status that does not contain any additional information about when the refund will be released. For what it’s worth, these tools are the best way to verify that your refund has been sent (it only updates once a day, usually overnight so you don’t have to check it out more often).

You can try calling the IRS at 1-800-829-1040also (this Lifehacker Post shows you how to navigate their menu and speak to an actual human) but IRS assistants cannot give you an ETA beyond what is included in their online tools, other than delays can be up to 10 weeks .

The Taxpayer Advocate Service – an independent agency within the IRS dedicated to advocating for tax advisers – has asked the IRS to provide more specific information on refunds beyond the status of “in process”. However, it is not clear when or if this will happen or when the IRS backlog will begin to clear. In the meantime you are unfortunately in a wait and see situation.