Why Is My Refund Still Processing? Understanding the Delay in Your Tax Refund

Have you ever found yourself asking “why is my refund still processing?” It can be frustrating to have to wait for your hard-earned money to come through. The process can seem complicated and endless, leaving you wondering whether you’ll ever see the refund you’re owed.

But fear not, my friend, as the answer to your question is not as complicated as it may seem. In fact, it’s a common issue that many taxpayers face every year. Understanding why your refund is still processing can give you peace of mind and even help you expedite the process.

So, what causes a delay in the processing of tax refunds? And is there anything you can do to speed up the process? In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common reasons why refunds get held up and what you can do to ensure a smooth and timely return. Whether you’re filing online or through a tax professional, we’ve got you covered.

Refund Processing Time

Waiting for a tax refund can be a frustrating experience, especially if you’re counting on that money to pay off bills or make a larger purchase. The IRS typically issues refunds within 21 days of processing a tax return. However, some refunds may take longer to process, and there are several factors that can affect processing time.

  • Errors on the tax return: If you make mistakes or leave out information on your tax return, it can delay processing and your refund may take longer to arrive. It’s important to double-check your return for errors before you submit it.
  • Identity theft or fraud: If the IRS suspects that your return was filed fraudulently or that your identity was stolen, they may need to take additional steps to verify your identity before processing your refund. This can add weeks or months to the processing time.
  • Weekend or holiday delays: The IRS does not process refunds on weekends or holidays. If your refund is scheduled to be issued during this time, it may be delayed by a day or two.

In addition to these factors, some taxpayers may be eligible for additional processing time due to their tax situation. For example, if you claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit, your refund may be delayed until mid-February to allow the IRS to perform additional checks.

To check the status of your refund, you can use the IRS Where’s My Refund tool. This tool will provide an estimated processing time and let you know if there are any issues that are delaying your refund. If you have concerns about the status of your refund, you can also contact the IRS directly for assistance.

Refund Processing Timeframes Method of Refund
Within 21 days E-file with direct deposit
Within 21 days Paper file with direct deposit
Within 21 days E-file with check sent in the mail
Within 4-6 weeks Paper file with refund check sent in the mail

While it’s understandable to want your refund as soon as possible, it’s important to remember that the IRS is processing millions of returns each year. By following the guidelines above and being patient, you can ensure that your refund arrives in a timely and secure manner.

Reasons for Delayed Refunds

There are a number of reasons why your tax refund may still be processing despite the fact that you submitted your return on time. One of the most common reasons is errors on your return. Your refund can be delayed if you entered incorrect information on your tax return, such as your Social Security number, your income, or your deductions. Another common reason is that your return may contain errors that need to be corrected before it can be processed. In some cases, the IRS may need to review additional documentation before they can process your refund. Finally, your refund may be delayed if you owe money to the IRS or if you have outstanding tax debts that need to be paid before your refund can be released.

Common Reasons for Delayed Refunds

  • Errors on your tax return
  • Additional documentation needed
  • Outstanding tax debts

Errors on Your Tax Return

If there are errors on your tax return, your refund can be delayed until the errors are corrected. Common errors include incorrect Social Security numbers, errors in income reported, and mistakes in deductions claimed. If you made mistakes on your tax return, you will need to file an amended return to correct them. This can take additional time, which is why your refund may be delayed.

Another common error is failing to sign your tax return. Your return cannot be processed until it is signed, so be sure to sign it before you send it to the IRS.

Additional Documentation Needed

In some cases, the IRS may need additional documentation before they can process your refund. This might include documents like W-2s, 1099s, or other forms that were not included with your tax return. If the IRS needs more information from you, they will send you a notice explaining what documents they need.

Outstanding Tax Debts

Reasons for Refund Delay Due to Tax Debts Description
Unpaid Income Taxes If you owe unpaid income taxes, the IRS can use your refund to pay off your tax debt.
Unpaid Child Support If you owe unpaid child support, the IRS can use your refund to pay off your child support debt.
Unpaid Student Loans If you owe unpaid student loans, the IRS can use your refund to pay off your student loan debt.

If you owe money to the IRS or have other outstanding tax debts, your refund may be delayed until those debts are paid off. The IRS will first use your refund to pay off any unpaid taxes you owe. If there is money left over, they will use it to pay off any other tax debts you may have, such as unpaid child support or student loans. Once your debts are paid off, the IRS will release any remaining refund to you.

Errors on Tax Returns

One of the reasons why your IRS tax refund is still processing is errors found on your tax returns. Filing taxes can be a tedious process, and mistakes can cost you both time and money.

Here are some common errors found on tax returns:

  • Incorrect Social Security Numbers
  • Math errors (avoided by using tax software or hiring a tax professional)
  • Incorrect Filing Status
  • Misspelled Names
  • Incorrect Bank Information for Direct Deposit

Typical Errors and their Impact on Tax Refunds:

Mathematical errors can cause your refund to be delayed or reduced, so it’s important to double-check your tax return before submitting it. Incorrect Social Security numbers can also slow down the IRS’s review process because they need to correctly match the taxpayer with their tax return.

Choosing the incorrect filing status is another common mistake that can impact the accuracy of your tax return.
Did you know that your filing status affects not only your tax rate, but also who can claim exemptions and tax credits on your return?

If you have made any of these errors on your tax return, you will likely receive a letter from the IRS in the mail explaining the mistake and the resulting changes to your refund or tax bill.

The Importance of Accuracy on Tax Returns:

Accuracy is crucial when it comes to filing taxes, as errors can lead to fines, penalties, and even audits. Even an honest mistake can have serious consequences. That’s why it’s recommended to use tax software or hire a tax professional to avoid mistakes.

Error Type Penalty/Fine
Math errors $20 per error
Underpayment or Late Payment of taxes 0.05% to 1% of unpaid taxes per month
Filing Late 5% of the tax owed per month (up to 25% maximum)

It’s important to note that if the mistake on your tax return is due to negligence or intentional fraud, the penalties can be much more severe, including fines of up to $250,000 or imprisonment.

In conclusion, if your tax refund is still processing, double-check your tax return for any errors. If you find any mistakes, correct them and resubmit your return. If the IRS finds any errors, they will notify you via mail. Remember, accuracy is key when it comes to filing taxes!

Fraudulent Tax Returns

One of the main reasons why refunds may still be processing is due to fraudulent tax returns. Identity theft has become increasingly common, and scammers can use stolen personal information to file fraudulent tax returns and claim refunds. The IRS has implemented numerous measures to combat this problem, but it can still affect honest taxpayers who become unwitting victims.

  • If the IRS suspects a return may be fraudulent, it will take additional time to review and validate the information on the return.
  • In some cases, the IRS may send a letter or request additional information from the taxpayer to confirm their identity and validate the return.
  • If the IRS determines that a return is indeed fraudulent, they may not issue a refund at all and may even pursue criminal charges against the perpetrator.

If you suspect that you may have been the victim of fraud or identity theft, it’s important to contact the IRS immediately and take steps to protect your personal information.

In order to avoid becoming a victim of fraudulent tax returns, be sure to take basic precautions such as safeguarding your personal information, using reputable tax preparers, and filing early in the tax season.

Signs of fraudulent tax activity: What to do if you suspect you are a victim:
Unexpected tax refund Contact the IRS and report the suspected fraud
IRS letter or notice stating multiple tax returns were filed under your name and social security number Contact the IRS and report the suspected fraud
IRS letter or notice stating you received wages from an employer you did not work for Contact the employer and report the fraudulent activity

By being aware of the signs of fraudulent tax activity and taking steps to protect your personal information, you can avoid becoming a victim and ensure that your tax refund is processed in a timely manner.

Identity Verification Process

One of the reasons why your refund may still be processing could be due to the Identity Verification process. The IRS has put in place this process to ensure that refunds are being sent to the right person and not a fraudulent one.

  • When you file your taxes, the first check the IRS make is to compare the information you have provided to the information they already have on their records. If there are any discrepancies, the Identity Verification process will begin.
  • The verification process can take up to 9 weeks, and in some cases, it may require additional information from you before it can be completed.
  • If the IRS has sent you a letter requesting more information, it is important that you respond as soon as possible to avoid any further delays in processing your refund.

How does the Identity Verification process work?

The Identity Verification process works by using a combination of your personal information such as your name, social security number, and address as well as verifying your past tax return information. This is done to ensure that the information you have provided is correct and that you are the rightful owner of the refund.

During the verification process, the IRS may also require you to provide additional documentation such as a driver’s license or passport to prove your identity. This step ensures that the refund is being sent to the right person and not to a potential identity thief.

What should I do if I am selected for the Identity Verification process?

If you are selected for the Identity Verification process, it is important that you respond to the IRS request as soon as possible. You should provide all the information and documentation they require accurately and promptly.

If you are unable to provide the requested information, you should call the IRS directly to determine what other options are available to you. Ignoring the request or providing false information can lead to further delays and potential legal troubles.


The Identity Verification process is in place to protect taxpayers from fraudulent activities. While it may be a hassle to go through this process, it ensures that your refund is being sent to the right person. If you are selected for this process, make sure to respond accurately and promptly to avoid any delays in processing your refund.

Scenario Average Time for Processing
No issues with Identity Verification 21 days
Identity Verification required up to 9 weeks

It is important to remember that the refund processing time varies depending on the tax season, your filing status, and the complexity of your return.

Impact of Government Shutdowns on Refunds

When a government shuts down, the consequences can be far-reaching. One of the areas that is often affected is tax refunds. During a government shutdown, the IRS is unable to process tax refunds in a timely manner, which can leave many taxpayers wondering why their refund is still processing. Below are some of the factors that contribute to this delay.

Factors Contributing to Delayed Refunds During a Government Shutdown

  • The IRS operates with a reduced staff during a shutdown, which slows down the processing of refunds.
  • During a shutdown, the IRS does not have the resources to update their systems and software, which can lead to delays in processing refunds.
  • In some cases, the IRS may need guidance from the federal government on how to process certain refunds, which is not possible during a shutdown.

The Impact of the 2018-2019 Government Shutdown on Tax Refunds

The 2018-2019 government shutdown, which lasted from December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019, had a significant impact on tax refunds. During this period, the IRS was unable to process refunds, answer taxpayer calls, or provide assistance in person. As a result, many taxpayers experienced delays in receiving their refunds. The IRS has stated that it will take several weeks to work through the backlog of refunds that accumulated during the shutdown.

According to CNN, as of February 1, 2019, the IRS had a backlog of 5 million pieces of mail that had not been processed yet. This delay in processing mail has led to delays in processing refunds for taxpayers who mailed in their tax returns instead of filing online. Additionally, the IRS has stated that it will be delaying the start of tax season for some taxpayers in 2019 due to the shutdown.

IRS Response to Government Shutdowns

The IRS has acknowledged that government shutdowns can have a significant impact on taxpayers and has taken steps to minimize the disruption. For example, during the 2018-2019 government shutdown, the IRS announced that it would be accepting tax returns as usual, even though it would not be able to process refunds until after the government reopened. Additionally, the IRS has encouraged taxpayers to file their tax returns electronically and to use direct deposit to receive their refunds, which can speed up the refund process.

Year Length of Shutdown Impact on Refunds
2013 16 days Some delays, but most refunds processed on time
2018-2019 35 days Significant delays in processing refunds and answering taxpayer calls
2020 35 days IRS expected to have contingency plans in place to minimize impact on refunds

It is important to note that government shutdowns are unpredictable, and their impact on tax refunds can vary depending on the length of the shutdown and the IRS’s ability to process refunds during that time. Taxpayers who are concerned about the status of their refund should check the IRS’s “Where’s My Refund?” tool, which provides real-time updates on the status of refunds.

Contacting the IRS for Refund Updates

If you have been waiting for your tax refund for a long time and it is still being processed, you might be wondering what is going on. The IRS states that the processing of a tax refund can take up to 21 days, but there are many cases where it takes longer than that. If you have been patiently waiting for your refund and you are not sure what is going on, contacting the IRS for refund updates is your best course of action.

  • Check Your Refund Status Online: The easiest way to check the status of your refund is to use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on the IRS website. You’ll need to provide your Social Security number, filing status, and the amount of your refund. This tool allows you to see the status of your return and refund.
  • Contact the IRS by Phone: If you would like to speak with someone about your refund, you can call the IRS at 800-829-1040. Make sure you have your Social Security number, filing status, and the amount of your refund ready when you call. The IRS representatives will be able to provide updates on your refund status.
  • Visit an IRS Office: If you prefer to talk to someone in person, you can visit an IRS office. Keep in mind that you will need to make an appointment first, and you will need to bring all of your documentation related to your refund.

If you choose to contact the IRS, it’s important to be patient and prepared. The representatives might ask you some questions to verify your identity, so make sure you have all of your information organized and ready to go. Typically, the representatives are friendly and helpful, and they are there to assist you in any way possible.

Here is an example of the information you might need to provide to the IRS when you contact them:

Information Example
Social Security number 123-45-6789
Filing status Single
Refund amount $1,200

Remember, the more information you have about your refund, the easier it will be for the IRS to assist you. Keep checking your refund status online, and if you still don’t receive your refund after a reasonable period of time, don’t hesitate to contact the IRS. With patience and accurate information, you should be able to resolve any issues you are having with your refund and receive your money as soon as possible.

Why is my refund still processing FAQs

1. Why is my refund still processing even after the estimated time?

Sometimes, the processing time can take longer than expected due to technical issues or a backlog of returns being processed. However, if it continues to take longer, it is important to contact the IRS or your tax preparer to ensure everything is on track.

2. Can errors on my tax return affect the processing time?

Yes, errors on your tax return can delay the processing time of your refund. It is important to double-check all information to avoid any delays.

3. Can I check the status of my refund?

Yes, the IRS provides a tool called “Where’s My Refund” that allows you to check the status of your refund. It is updated once a day and can be accessed on their website.

4. Is there a way to speed up the processing time for my refund?

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to speed up the processing time for your refund. However, filing electronically and selecting direct deposit can speed up the process compared to paper filing or receiving a paper check.

5. Can the current COVID-19 pandemic affect the processing time of my refund?

Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the processing time of refunds due to staffing issues and increased workload. It is important to have patience and try to avoid contacting the IRS unless it has been significantly longer than the estimated processing time.

6. What should I do if my refund is still processing after an extended period of time?

If your refund is still processing after an extended period of time, it is important to contact the IRS or your tax preparer to ensure everything is on track. It could be due to an error or issue with your return that needs to be addressed.

Closing: Thanks for Reading!

We hope these FAQs have helped to answer any questions you may have had about why your refund is still processing. Remember to double-check all information to avoid any errors and utilize the IRS’ online tools for checking the status of your refund. With a bit of patience, your refund will be on its way. Thanks for reading and visit again later for more helpful articles!