Millions of tax refunds delayed due to COVID-19

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- If you're still waiting for your tax refund, you're not alone as millions of taxpayers are in the same boat thanks to COVID-19 shutting down many IRS offices for months.

To add to the backlog of cases, returns continue to come, in because the tax deadline for 2019 was extended to July 15 to give people affected by the virus more time to file.

Troubleshooter Diane Wilson continues to hear from frustrated taxpayers like Fayetteville resident Stephanie Walker. She's been waiting to get her tax refund since she filed her taxes in March.

"It's a big one. It's like over $10,000, and I really want it."

She has proof her CPA electronically filed her taxes with the IRS at the beginning of March.

"I had a date of March 29 when I was supposed to receive it, and a few days went by, and I said oh you know the pandemic, and then like a whole three weeks went by, so I asked my tax preparer, and she was like you should have it," Walker said.

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A lot of people don't know this, but the IRS owes you interest if they don't send your tax refund by a certain date.



Walker did get her stimulus payment, but there is no sign of her tax refund.

She said she tried to reach out to the IRS several times, but there's nobody available to talk to her.

"We can't talk to anybody. There's no representation of the IRS that I can get through to anyone, so it's frustrating."

Walker is not alone as the IRS was forced to shut down several processing centers due to COVID-19, plus the IRS also focused on getting stimulus payments out. In a recent report to Congress, the National Taxpayer Advocate said the IRS had a backlog of 4.7 million returns for the 2019 tax year as of mid-May.

CPA Faith Bynum said taxpayers need to have patience when it comes to waiting for their tax returns.

"The bottom line is they are behind. I think that they're just trying to catch up at this point," Bynum said.

The bad news is if you're still waiting, there is not much you can do.

"Unfortunately, once your tax return is transmitted to the IRS, it's a waiting game, and it's pretty much out of your control or out of your tax return preparer's control," Walker said. "I encourage all taxpayers, follow up, follow up, follow up. That is the main thing that we can do, and stay on it."

She says if you have a tax preparer, they can also contact the IRS on your behalf.

The IRS said it typically issues refunds on electronic returns in less than 21 days, but things like errors or fraud or incomplete returns can cause a longer process.

When it comes to if taxpayers have any recourse when dealing with long refund delays, the IRS's website says interest on 2019 refunds reflected on returns filed by July 15, 2020, will generally be paid from April 15, 2020, until the date of the refund.

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When it comes to Walker and her refund, she is still waiting and says she continues to contact the IRS and lawmakers and hopeful she will have her money soon.

For those of you who still haven't filed as you're waiting for that extended July 15 deadline, try to file electronically as the IRS says the processing time is faster.
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