1 min

IRS Refund Tracker: "Your Tax Return is Still Being Processed"

Aug 25, 2022
in a nutshell
  • Typically, the IRS issues tax refunds in three weeks or 21 calendar days.
  • If your refund is late and the IRS’ Where’s My Refund? tool says “Your return is being processed,” it might be worth a call to the IRS.
  • If you don’t receive a refund within 45 days of the tax filing deadline, the IRS is required to pay you interest on your refund.
Image of If the IRS refund tracker says your tax return is still being processed, it might be time for a phone call.
in a nutshell
  • Typically, the IRS issues tax refunds in three weeks or 21 calendar days.
  • If your refund is late and the IRS’ Where’s My Refund? tool says “Your return is being processed,” it might be worth a call to the IRS.
  • If you don’t receive a refund within 45 days of the tax filing deadline, the IRS is required to pay you interest on your refund.

If you’ve submitted your federal tax return and are checking the IRS Where’s My Refund? tool to find out the status of your refund, you may be wondering what “your return is being processed” means.

It means the IRS “got your tax return, so you don’t have to sweat that there was an issue with them receiving it,” says Howard Samuels, a certified public accountant at Samuels & Associates in Florham Park, New Jersey.

Typically, the IRS processes most returns and issues refunds within three weeks or 21 calendar days of receipt. But recently, there have been logjams. One way to speed things along is to make sure you file electronically with direct deposit, avoiding a paper tax return, IRS commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement on January 10, 2022.

Here’s what you can do if you suspect your federal tax refund is delayed or you need more information about your return.

How to contact the IRS: ‘Your best bet is to call first thing in the morning’

If there’s a backlog, prepare to wait a few more weeks than normal, Samuels says. “At this point I would say sit tight for at least four to six weeks. After that, you may want to call the IRS to find out what’s going on,” he says.

In 2021, taxpayers who called to ask about their financial situations had just a 1 in 9 chance of being answered — and those who did get through lingered on hold for an average 23 minutes, according to an annual report from the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

“Your best best is to call first thing in the morning as soon as the IRS opens at 7 a.m. ET,” Samuels says. “I’ve also heard some people have luck when they call later in the day around 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. [Eastern] right before the IRS closes at 7 p.m.”

The IRS owes you interest on late refunds

If it takes a while for you to get your money from the government, there is a silver lining, Samuels says: “The law requires the IRS to pay interest on any delayed refund checks.”

If you don’t receive a refund within 45 days of the tax filing deadline, the IRS will owe you interest.

In 2020, the IRS owed many taxpayers interest on late refunds. The average interest payment was $18.

“If you’re waiting on a bigger refund, that could be real interest, and it compounds daily,” Samuels says.

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal, or tax advice. Consult your accountant, tax, or legal advisor regarding such matters.

This material has been presented for informational and educational purposes only. The views expressed in the articles above are generalized and may not be appropriate for all investors. The information contained in this article should not be construed as, and may not be used in connection with, an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or hold, an interest in any security or investment product. There is no guarantee that past performance will recur or result in a positive outcome. Carefully consider your financial situation, including investment objective, time horizon, risk tolerance, and fees prior to making any investment decisions. No level of diversification or asset allocation can ensure profits or guarantee against losses. Article contributors are not affiliated with Acorns Advisers, LLC. and do not provide investment advice to Acorns’ clients. Acorns is not engaged in rendering tax, legal or accounting advice. Please consult a qualified professional for this type of service.

Sofia Pitt

Sofia Pitt was a reporter for Grow.

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