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How to Get Help With an IRS Tax Refund Delay


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

If you’re still waiting on your tax refund, here’s where you can go for help.

Check Where’s My Refund

The IRS Where’s My Refund Tool is the first place to go for information about your refund status.

Where’s My Refund tells you:

  • If the IRS has your tax return
  • If the IRS has approved your tax return as filed
  • When you should expect your refund

Remember that electronic tax returns can take up to a week to show up and paper returns can take up to four to six weeks to show up. If it’s been that long and you’re not in the system at all, call the IRS.

Refund Issued But Not Received

If the IRS says they sent your refund but you don’t have it, it may be on the way.

A direct deposit can take at least 2-3 business days. A check might take 2-3 weeks to arrive.

If you’ve been waiting longer than that, it’s time to call the IRS.

Refund Delays

If you check your refund status and see that it’s delayed, the first thing you should do is go to the IRS website and click Get Your Tax Record. You want to request a tax transcript for the current tax year.

Your tax transcript shows additional information such as whether the IRS pulled your tax return for an audit, whether it’s still processing, and whether they’ve sent a notice.

Processing Delays

If you have a message that the IRS is still processing your refund, there’s usually nothing you can do. You’re in line for them to figure out if they can approve your refund or if they need to ask you for more information.

The IRS works in order, and you can’t ask them to speed your refund up even for a financial hardship.

They also usually won’t give you a partial refund even if they’re not reviewing your entire refund.

The timing of the review process varies from a week or two to several months. You’re not lost in the system. The IRS just has too many tax returns to get through.

Audits and Notices

If you see that you’re under audit or the IRS is sending some other notice, you should expect to get something in the mail within about two weeks.

When you get a letter in the mail, the IRS will tell you what information they want and what phone number you can call.

You should usually wait until the letter arrives because it also takes a few days for the IRS computers to update. If you call too soon, the IRS representative may not be able to assist you.

If it’s been more than two to three weeks and you haven’t gotten anything in the mail, you can call the IRS to request another copy of the notice they sent.

You Sent More Information and Still No Refund

If the IRS contacted you for more information, you sent it back, and you still don’t have a refund, I don’t have good news for you. People are still saying the IRS is taking months to get back to them.

You may want to call after four weeks to confirm the IRS got your response. The IRS will often tell you not to call and say it takes time but then will turn around and say you never replied.

The IRS is really, really bad at dealing with these situations.