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Yes, you can check the status of a delayed tax refund

The IRS has an online tool that tells taxpayers the status of their tax refund. We explain how it works.
Credit: AP
FILE - A sign is displayed outside the Internal Revenue Service building May 4, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

It’s been 21 days since the April 18 tax filing deadline for 2022. Most people filed their taxes on or before that day, and anyone expecting a refund might expect to see it soon if they haven’t gotten it already. The IRS said it had 9.6 million unprocessed tax returns on April 29 — the agency must first process a tax return to issue a refund.

But people who filed their taxes before the deadline who haven’t received their refund yet may be wondering what the holdup is. Jef texted VERIFY to ask: “How do I get an update on taxes if it's past 21 days since filing?”

THE QUESTION

Is there a way to check on the status of a delayed tax refund?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, there is a way to check on the status of a delayed tax refund.

WHAT WE FOUND

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides a tool they call “Where’s My Refund” that people can use to check on the status of their federal tax refund. A person can first use the tool to check on their refund 24 hours after filing their taxes online, or four weeks after filing a paper tax return. Taxpayers can also use the IRS2Go mobile app for the same purpose.

To use the tool, a person will need to provide the IRS their Social Security number, their filing status and the exact amount they’re supposed to be refunded.

The tool divides the refund timeline into three steps: when the IRS received the tax return, when it approved the tax refund and when it sends the refund back to the taxpayer. The IRS gives the taxpayer the date the refund is scheduled to be sent to the person’s bank account once it has processed the return and approved the refund.

USAGov says tax refunds are generally issued within 21 days of the date a person filed their taxes online, or within 42 days of the date a person filed a paper tax return.

The IRS says not to call it about the status of a tax refund unless it’s been more than 21 days since the taxpayer e-filed or the Where’s My Refund tool tells the taxpayer to contact the IRS. It adds that IRS representatives will not be able to provide a person more information unless Where’s My Refund directs them to call the IRS. USAGov notes that IRS live phone assistance is extremely limited at this time with long wait times.

A tax refund could be delayed because it needs a correction or is incomplete, needs further review or is suspected of identity fraud, includes a claim filed for an Earned Income Tax Credit or an Additional Child Tax Credit or includes an injured spouse allocation form which may take up to 14 weeks for the IRS to process.

If the IRS is still processing a person’s tax return or correcting an error, the IRS says neither the Where’s My Refund tool or an IRS representative will be able to provide a person with a specific refund date. The IRS says it will contact the taxpayer by mail if it needs more information to process their return.

According to a May 6 update from the IRS, the IRS still had 9.6 million unprocessed tax returns as of April 29, 2022. The IRS says 2.9 million of these unprocessed returns need error corrections or other special handling, and 6.7 million are paper returns waiting to be processed. The IRS will try to correct any errors it can without contacting the taxpayer, and the agency said these issues — including those in which it must contact the taxpayer — could take 90 to 120 days to resolve.

Some tax preparation companies, such as H&R Block, have their own tools for checking the status of a refund for people who filed their taxes through them. These tools work similarly to the IRS tool, which can be used to check the status of a federal refund even if a person filed their taxes with a company that has its own tool.

Each state has its own method or tool people can use to check the status of a state tax refund. H&R Block provides a list of every state with how to check on a state refund in each one.

More from VERIFY: Yes, you still have to pay taxes even if you don’t have a bank account

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