Why Haven’t I Received My Refund?

If you paper filed a return and are owed a refund, you may be wondering why it is taking so long.

The reason is likely that your return is caught up in a backlog of paper-filed returns.

Take a Deep Breath

IRS employees are real people and working as hard as possible to process tax returns. Contacting the IRS will not speed up the refund.

Always E-file Whenever Possible

E-filing returns helps avoid mistakes such as incorrect SSNs that can delay your tax refund.

When you e-file you will receive an acknowledgement within minutes. If rejected you’ll find out how to fix the error.

When a tax return is paper filed, IRS employees have to manually enter the data into the IRS system. This takes much longer. If there are mistakes on the return, there will likely be further delays.

Sometimes it is not possible to e-file, for example, if you have an ITIN application with your return.

Check the Status of Your Refund Online

You can check Where’s My Refund? or you can view your account.

If your return does not show as received, it does not necessarily mean the return has not been received. The IRS may not have populated that information yet.

How Long Will You Have to Wait?

Before the pandemic, the IRS issued refunds to paper-filers within 4-6 weeks. Those timeframes are no longer applicable due to the backlog.

According to the IRS website, all error-free tax returns filed before April 2022 have been processed.

However, as of December 2, 2022, the IRS has 3.1 million unprocessed returns, about half of which have errors requiring correction and half that are unprocessed paper returns.

The tax returns are processed in the order received. If there are errors or suspected identity theft or fraud, it may take more than 4 months to resolve the issues.

Should you Re-File Your Return?

The IRS states that if you are due a refund, filed on paper more than six months ago, and Where’s My Refund? does not indicate the IRS received your return, you should resubmit your tax return, electronically if possible.

In all other cases, the IRS advises that no further action is needed.

The Good News

If you’re owed a refund and the IRS hasn’t issued it yet, the IRS is required to pay you interest.

The interest starts accruing 45 days after the acceptance of the return.

On October 1st, the interest rate rose to 6% from 5%. The interest should be paid with your refund.

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