Tax Refund Delays: 7 Reasons Your IRS Money Could Be Late

Even early filers can face tax refund delays as a result of these income tax situations.

Some Americans are already enjoying their tax refunds this year, as the IRS has issued money to more than 22 million Americans. To get that tax refund early, the agency and tax experts advise filing electronically and using direct deposit. If you do, the IRS says you'll get your refund in about 21 days.

But even if you do everything right, you could still find yourself waiting for your money to arrive from the IRS. The three-week estimate might be accurate for the average tax filer, but a variety of factors can hold up your tax refund.

Here are some of the most common reasons your IRS money could be delayed this year. For more, get all the details on 2022 tax deadlines, see how to track your refund to your bank account or your mailbox and learn how to create an online IRS account. We'll keep this story updated.

Your tax return has errors or is incomplete

When you file your tax return, it's important to cross-check any information you've included to make sure it's accurate. For instance, don't mix up the numbers of state taxes withheld with federal taxes withheld. Before you submit your taxes to the IRS, simply take a second look to fix any potential errors and make sure you've filled out each field.

Also, if you received child tax credit payments last year, make sure the amount on Letter 6419 matches the amount you received. If an incorrect amount is entered, the IRS will need to further review your tax return, which the agency says will result in an "extensive delay."

Note that if there's a problem that needs to be fixed after you submit your return, the IRS will first try to proceed without contacting you. That means it could be days or weeks before you know there's a problem.

You owe the IRS money

If you owe back taxes to the IRS, the agency may take some or all of your tax refund to pay off that debt. If your refund contains more money than you owe, you'll receive the remaining balance via direct deposit or check in the mail, but it could be delayed. Taxpayers whose refunds are used by the IRS to cover existing payment obligations should receive a CP49 notice in the mail. 

Even if you don't owe the IRS money, the agency can keep your tax refund money if you have other debts to state or federal agencies. The Treasury Offset Program enables the IRS to take all or part of your tax refund to pay obligations such as child support, state taxes or unemployment compensation repayments. Such debts could delay the arrival of your remaining tax refund or eliminate it completely.

Your banking information is incorrect

Have you changed bank accounts since you last filed your taxes? If so, pay close attention to what the direct deposit information says when submitting your return this year. If you accidentally forget to update it with your new direct deposit details, your refund will be sent back to the IRS. This will likely result in a paper check being mailed to your house, which could take several weeks longer to arrive.

You filed a paper tax return

This year, the IRS is encouraging taxpayers to file electronically and set up direct deposit to get their refunds back more quickly. With mail delays, it could take a while for the IRS to receive your return in the mail and even longer to issue a paper check. 

Filing your return online instead of through the mail is more important than ever this year to avoid refund delays, the IRS says. Instead of a paper tax return, use one of these free online tax filing services so you don't have to wait to receive your money

Learn smart gadget and internet tips and tricks with our entertaining and ingenious how-tos.

By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.

You filed for the child tax credit or earned income credit

If you filed your return in January and included the child tax credit or earned income credit on your taxes, by law, the earliest you can get a refund is mid-February. This is to give the IRS more time to prevent fraudulent refunds from being issued.

Assuming there aren't any errors, the IRS expects most taxpayers claiming these benefits to receive their refunds in their bank accounts by March 1.

Child tax credit money can be sent no sooner than mid-February.

The IRS suspects identity theft

If the IRS flags a tax return for having a possible chance of identity theft, the agency will hold your refund until your identity is verified. When that occurs, you'll likely receive a 5071C letter that provides instructions for proving your identity. If your tax return is legitimate, don't panic -- an IRS letter doesn't mean there is proof of identity theft, merely a suspicion.

Taxpayers can verify their identity on the IRS website, which currently requires creating an account, or by calling a dedicated phone number listed on the IRS letter. If those methods fail, you'll need to schedule an in-person appointment at a local IRS office.

One method for avoiding identity-theft-related delays is to create an "Identity Protection PIN" or IP-PIN. This unique six-digit ID is known only to you and the IRS and prevents anyone else from filing a return in your name. The IP PIN will only last for one year -- you'll need to create a new one next tax season if you want the same level of identity protection. You'll need an account to create an IP PIN online, although it is possible to acquire an IP PIN using IRS Form 15227 (PDF) and a telephone interview or in-person appointment.

Your return needs further review

As mentioned above, if you see a message saying that your tax return needs further review by the IRS, you can expect your refund to arrive later than the average three weeks. For instance, if you receive a CP07 Notice, it means the IRS has received your tax return and is holding your refund until it completes a more thorough review. You might get this notice if you're claiming treaty benefits or deductions on the Schedule A section (PDF) of your taxes.

If the agency finds no issues, your refund could arrive within six to 12 weeks, assuming no taxes are owed. If the IRS does find issues with your return, it'll send you a notice with instructions on what to do within that same period. That means you'll get your refund months later than you anticipated.

For more information, here are the most important dates and deadlines for filing your taxes. Also, here are 10 tax changes that could affect the size of your refund, and 13 tax deductions and credits to boost your refund.

Previous Post Next Post