As consumers nationwide start to think about this year’s tax season, millions are still worried about their 2019 returns, as many still have not received their federal tax refunds.
Taxpayers report filing early, but say they still await both answers—and their much-needed money.
NBC5 Responds viewer Raffaela Gurschke is one of the millions in financial limbo. She filed her taxes on Feb. 7 of last year, and says she still hasn’t heard a clear answer on where her anticipated $5,500 refund stands.
This news is in spite of her ten months of trying to get answers from the IRS. With her work in the service sector at a standstill, she says that money is earmarked for many crucial needs in her life.
Certified Public Accountant Wendy Barlin says those in the same boat with Raffaela can take heart.
“I know it's frustrating and everybody needs the money, but your money is not lost. It will come.”
Barlin says she has also heard the worry from consumers who’ve not yet received their 2019 refunds. She sympathizes with them, but also with the challenges this year brought for the IRS.
“The IRS had to close their offices and send everybody home. And like many of us, they will not set up for virtual operations. They have a much older workforce in general,” Barlin said.
The IRS acknowledges it had a backlog of some 6.9 million returns it had not yet processed as of late Dec. 2020.
Here is the full statement the agency shared with NBC5 Responds:
The IRS is now opening mail within normal timeframes. The IRS has also made significant progress in processing returns. As of Dec. 25, 2020, we had 6.9 million individual tax returns in the processing pipeline. For refunds that could not be issued in 2020 because the tax return is being corrected, reviewed or awaiting correspondence from a taxpayer, the refund will be issued as a paper check in 2021 per our normal processes. Taxpayers are encouraged to continue to check Where’s My Refund for their personalized refund status.
How long you may have to wait: It depends on where you sent your tax return and where it is in the process. In some locations, we are caught up or almost caught up. In other locations we are processing returns we received over the summer due to the extended July 15 tax filing due date and, in some cases, are processing tax returns dated as early as Apr. 15, 2020. However, we are rerouting tax returns and taxpayer correspondence from locations that are behind to locations where more staff is available, and we are taking other actions to minimize any delays. Tax returns are opened in the order received. As the return is processed, it may be delayed because it has a mistake, is missing information, or there is suspected identity theft or fraud. If we can fix it without contacting you, we will. If we need more information or need you to verify that it was you who sent the tax return, we will write you a letter. The resolution of these issues depends on how quickly and accurately you respond, and the IRS staff trained and working under social distancing requirements to complete the processing of your return.
What you should do: Other than responding to any requests for information promptly, there’s no action you can take. We’re working hard to get through the backlog. Please don’t file a second tax return or contact the IRS about the status of your return.