It’s no secret that the IRS is seriously backlogged on processing tax returns. Although I received my refund within weeks of e-filing, millions filing paper returns are going to be waiting a while.

Congress hasn’t been appropriating enough money for the IRS to perform efficiently. That’s the bottom line. In the interim, here’s three things you need to know if you’re waiting:

Calling the IRS Won’t Accelerate Your Refund: Many taxpayers mistakenly believe the commonly held myth that speaking with the IRS by phone or visiting in-person at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center will expedite their tax refund. The best way to check the status of a refund is online through the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at or via the IRS2Go mobile app. Alternatively, those without internet access can reach “Where’s My Refund?” by calling the automated refund hotline at 800-829-1954.


Don’t Worry About Your 2021 Return. The reality is that taxpayers generally will not need to wait for their 2020 return to be fully processed to file their 2021 tax returns. They should file when they’re ready. People with unprocessed 2020 tax returns, should enter $0 (zero dollars) for last year’s AGI on their 2021 tax return when electronically filing.

There are Lots of Other Reasons Why Your Refund is Delayed. While the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible a refund may take longer for a variety of reasons, including when a return is incomplete or needs further review. Delays can be caused by simple errors like an incomplete return, transposed numbers or when a tax return is affected by identity theft or fraud.


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