IRS responds after complaints about tax refund delays, some wonder if stimulus checks may be cause

CHICAGO -- Dozens of people said they have been waiting weeks for the tax refunds from the IRS, as the agency has been preoccupied with issuing millions of stimulus checks.

The IRS typically sends out most tax refunds in less than 21 days, but some people have reported they've been waiting for months.

"I am frustrated because I filed my taxes on March 6, of this year, and I had it direct deposited," said Barbara Whitecraft of Lansing, Illinois. "Usually I get it in two weeks, and here it is already May and I haven't received anything."

Trudy Howard, owner of Howard Tax Prep LLC, said the delays appear to be a widespread problem.

"I've never seen anything like this, and I've been doing this since 2003," she said. "And online, I'm part of a tax community and a lot of people from Memphis, Atlanta, throughout the United States, they are reporting that their clients also have not been receiving their refunds in the typical seven to 21 days."

On the IRS website there is a tool that allows people to check the status of their tax refund, but many report they get a message that says "Your tax return is still being processed."

"It's never, ever taken this long to get my refund back," Whitecraft said.

The IRS said as of May 8, 94.3 million refunds worth $255.4 billion have been sent to taxpayers. They added, "While the IRS expects to issue more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, it's possible a particular tax return may require additional review and a refund could take longer. Many different factors can affect the timing of a refund."

Those factors include things like errors, incomplete tax returns, identity theft or fraud, or if a return needs further review in general.

But some of the taxpayers who contacted ABC7 said they checked and triple checked their return with their tax preparer, and wonder if the real reason behind the delay has anything to do with the stimulus checks.

"I know the stimulus checks are important, but so are the other checks, too," Whitecraft said.

The IRS said more than 90 percent of taxpayers filed electronically this year, but if you filed a paper return the agency said it cannot process those at this time, and they won't be able to until their centers are able to reopen.
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