3 Reasons Why Your Tax Refund Has Been Delayed

It is Tax Season and all is not well!

For the most part, Uncle Sam processes electronically filed tax returns within three weeks, with many filers receiving their refunds sooner.  If you have filed and haven’t seen your payday, don’t panic just yet. Maybe I can help track it down. The delay could be due to fixable errors or unexpected collections. Let’s explore three common reasons why your money hasn’t landed in your bank account.

Claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit
Refunds including either of these credits will be put on ice until February 15th. In an effort to reduce tax fraud the IRS has decided to put a little time on these payouts. No worries, all returns on hold will process per usual on the 15th of February with no additional requirements of you. You should see your refund within three weeks following.

Owing a creditor
If Navient has snatched your refund for past due student loan payments, you probably won’t be the first to know. Whenever a creditor offsets (is granted rights to) your refund, it takes a few weeks for the mailed notification to make its way into your mailbox. Follow up with the Treasury’s Offset Program to see if your refund has been diverted to a creditor.

Treasury Offset Program (TOP)
Monday through Friday
7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time

Filing a paper return
Filing a paper return slows down the distribution of your refund by 6-8 weeks. Once the return has been processed, allow another 3-4 weeks for the refund to get to you. Yep, you read that right, 2-3 months of processing time for paper returns. Why wait longer than you have to? E-file!

If neither of these apply and you still haven’t received your tax refund, contact the IRS for an update by phone (800-829-1040) or online. You should only call the IRS if:

  • It has been 3 weeks or more since you filed electronically (11 weeks if Injured Spouse form was included);
  • It has been 6 weeks since you mailed your paper return (14 weeks if Injured Spouse form was included); or
  • Where’s My Refund? directs you to contact them.

IRS representatives will typically make you wait 21 calendar days from the date of an e-file acceptance before doing any extensive amount of research on your behalf.

Nevertheless, be patient and be persistent. It is your money after all.


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