COVID-19 pandemic putting the brakes on 30 million tax returns


(WATE) — The Internal Revenue Service has yet to process nearly 30 million tax returns and that number continues to grow. The Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent agency of the IRS, reports millions of tax returns have yet to be processed due to pandemic-related issues.

People across the country and East Tennessee have been asking, “Where is my refund?” Typically, the IRS sends most refunds within three weeks of taxpayers filing their return, but this year is complicated by several issues, including a backlog of 2019 paper tax returns that the IRS was unable to process after closing its offices during the coronavirus pandemic last year.

A recent notice from the IRS said that some people may experience a longer-than-average wait for their payments. Josie is one of those 30 million waiting for their tax return. She’s due nearly $3,000.

With the help of folks at her church, Josie, who asked we not use her last name, e-filed her 1040 return on March 14. She says she expected it to come back way before now but has been waiting for three months.

Josie holds down a part-time job and declared credit for her grandchild and disabled niece. So, her return would come in handy at home, but when will she receive her money? Why are so many refunds behind?

Calls to the IRS’s Account Management lines, the primary phone contact for taxpayers, are up 300% this filing season. The delays in issuing refunds are attributed to the complexity of the tax changes authorized by several stimulus packages. The IRS says if you are still waiting on a refund, you can go to and check the “Where’s My Refund” option to either make a call or check online.

Josie says she’s used the option frequently over the last couple of months. Every time she’s used it or called, she’s informed her return is still being processed, and a refund date will be provided when available.

She wonders whether the delay is about something she did. Tax watch dog groups say long before the 2021 tax season started, predictions were there would be problems for several reasons like:

  • The pandemic shut down IRS offices.
  • Staffing shortages.
  • The IRS had to send out millions of stimulus payments.

The bottom line, if you haven’t received your refund yet, think of it this way, neither have millions of other people.

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