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No Tax Refund for Months? Here's What to Do


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’ve been waiting for your tax refund for months, here are the steps you should take.

Make sure the IRS has your tax return.

Go to the IRS website and click “Check Your Refund Status.” Enter your information.

Your refund status should show “tax return received,” “tax return accepted,” or some sort of message about your tax refund. If the message says anything about a refund, the IRS has your tax return.

If the message says the IRS doesn’t have a tax return, call the IRS.

Some people will tell you to jump straight to filing a duplicate tax return. With a duplicate tax return, you:

  • Print off another copy of your tax return.
  • Write DUPLICATE RETURN in big letters at the top.
  • Include a letter saying that you already filed on [DATE] and are sending a copy because the IRS doesn’t show your tax return in the system.
  • Include a copy of any proof of filing you have like a confirmation from your online tax filing software or a certified mail receipt.

The reason I’m not saying to do that is lately the IRS has been saying not to. They’ve been having huge processing delays especially if you filed by mail.

In some cases, it’s taking them months to enter tax returns in their system.

So I would call the IRS first to see what they want you to do. Their phone waiting times have gotten much better recently.

Does your tax refund say issued?

Does your Where’s My Refund Issue say refund issued when you didn’t get it?

Direct deposits should normally arrive within a week. Checks should normally arrive within two to three weeks.

If you never got your refund when the IRS says you did

  • You may have entered your bank info incorrectly
  • You may have changed banks or closed that account
  • You may have moved to a new address
  • Your check may have gotten lost in the mail
  • Some other kind of error

What you’ll want to do is call the IRS and request a payment trace. They’ll figure out what happened to your refund and issue you a new check.

Is your refund still processing?

IRS refund status results messages are normally “don’t call us, we’ll call you.” When your tax refund gets delayed, you have to wait to find out if the IRS approves it or sends you a letter.

Normally, you should hear from the IRS within 30 to 60 days at the very longest. (Even if it’s just a letter telling you they need more time to review your refund.)

If you moved and didn’t file a change of address with the IRS, they might have mailed you a letter. Fax in a Form 8822 Change of Address form. Then call them to request a copy of anything you didn’t get.

Another thing you can do to see what’s going on is to check your IRS transcript codes. Go to the IRS website and click “Get Your Tax Record.”

Your IRS transcript or tax record shows things like if and when they mailed you notices and any changes to the tax you owe.

Sometimes, your tax return just falls through the cracks.

If it’s been an unreasonable amount of time without hearing any kind of update, call the IRS.

Did the IRS take your tax refund?

The IRS may take your tax refund if:

  • It changes your tax return and says you owed more than you reported
  • You owed taxes from a previous year
  • You owed state taxes, child support, or some other government debt

Normally, you should get some kind of letter from the IRS. Again, that letter will go to the address on your tax return unless you file a change of address form.

You can also check your IRS transcript or account record to see if you have an adjusted refund amount.

If you missed the letter, call the IRS to request a copy. Carefully review it to see whether you agree with the reasons for the changes.

If you disagree, you normally get 30 to 90 days to appeal changes to your refund depending on the changes. If you never got the letter, ask for more time based on that reason.