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What to Do When Your Tax Refund is Sent Back to the IRS: A Comprehensive Guide


Content provided for general information. Talk to your advisor to learn about recent updates or other rules that may apply to your situation.

Navigating the complex world of tax returns can be a daunting task, and when unexpected issues arise, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. One common issue that taxpayers face is having their tax refund sent back to the IRS. If you're in this situation, you're not alone. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons behind your refund being sent back to the IRS and provide guidance on how to address this issue. It's essential to keep in mind that while we can offer general advice, it's always best to consult with a tax advisor for personalized assistance.

Understanding the Basics

When your tax return is processed by the IRS, it goes through a series of checks and reviews to ensure accuracy and compliance with tax laws. There are several reasons why your refund might be sent back to the IRS. These include:

  1. Errors on Your Tax Return: Mistakes or discrepancies on your tax return, such as incorrect Social Security numbers, missing information, or mathematical errors, can result in your refund being sent back to the IRS for further review.
  2. Identity Verification Issues: The IRS may need to verify your identity if they suspect fraudulent activity or identity theft. This can lead to delays in processing your refund.
  3. Outstanding Tax Debts: If you owe past-due federal or state taxes, the IRS may use your refund to offset these debts, causing your refund to be sent back to them.
  4. Missing or Incomplete Forms: Failure to include necessary forms or schedules can also lead to your refund being sent back for correction.
  5. Suspected Tax Fraud: If the IRS detects any signs of tax fraud, they will initiate an investigation, which could delay or result in the denial of your refund.

What to Do When Your Refund is Sent Back to the IRS

If your tax refund has been sent back to the IRS, it's essential to take the following steps to address the issue:

  1. Review Your Tax Return: Carefully review your tax return for errors, omissions, or discrepancies. Make sure all the information is accurate, and all required forms and schedules are included.
  2. Contact the IRS: You can call the IRS or visit their website to get in touch with a representative who can provide information on the specific reason your refund was sent back. They may request additional information or documentation to resolve the issue.
  3. Identity Verification: If your refund is delayed due to identity verification, you may need to provide additional documentation to confirm your identity. The IRS will guide you on the required steps.
  4. Check for Outstanding Tax Debts: If you have unpaid taxes, the IRS may offset your refund to cover these debts. You should verify your tax account balance and explore options for resolving the debt.
  5. Be Patient: Resolving issues with your tax refund can take time, so it's important to be patient throughout the process. Keep records of all communications and documentation you provide to the IRS.

Using Online Tools

While you mentioned having difficulty tracking your refund status on the IRS website, there are alternative online tools that can help you keep tabs on your refund. The "Where's My Refund?" tool on the IRS website is often the first choice for taxpayers. However, in your case, it seems to be unresponsive. You mentioned that you can still track your status on TPG (The Paperless Post), which can be useful to cross-reference and check the status of your refund.

It's important to note that TPG (The Paperless Post) is a financial services company, and their status updates may not always align with the IRS's information. While it provides some insights, the final authority on your tax refund status is the IRS.

Consulting a Tax Advisor

Throughout this process, it's highly advisable to consult with a tax advisor, who can provide professional guidance tailored to your specific situation. A tax advisor will help you understand the root cause of the issue, offer advice on how to resolve it, and ensure that you take the necessary steps to rectify any errors or discrepancies on your tax return. They can also provide insights on any potential tax implications related to your specific situation and help you make informed decisions.


Having your tax refund sent back to the IRS can be a frustrating and confusing experience. However, by understanding the common reasons behind this issue and taking the appropriate steps, you can work towards resolving it. Remember to review your tax return, communicate with the IRS, and consult with a tax advisor for personalized assistance. While online tools like "Where's My Refund?" and TPG can provide some guidance, they may not always offer the complete picture. Be patient throughout the process, and with diligence and expert guidance, you can navigate this tax challenge and look forward to receiving your refund.