Triangle residents fed up waiting months for tax refunds, IRS responds

What should be 21 days of waiting has instead turned into months of waiting for some Triangle taxpayers, some even waiting more than a year for their tax refunds.

ABC11 Troubleshooter Diane Wilson continues to hear from frustrated viewers who filed their 2020 taxes earlier this year and have been waiting months for their refund. Some viewers are also still waiting on their 2018 and 2019 refunds. Previously, the IRS has blamed the COVID pandemic on the delays, and they are working through the backlog, but viewers say it's not fast enough.

Raleigh residents, Cristi Heffelfinger and her husband filed their 2020 taxes in March through a CPA. She knew about the delays in processing refunds but didn't think she'd still be waiting months later for their refund. She says calls to the IRS haven't helped.

"They just put you in an automated system that we can't handle your call goodbye," Heffelfinger said.

When she finally did get a hold of an IRS representative, she says she was told it would take about 10 weeks to get her refund, but she's now been waiting 13 weeks. When she goes to the IRS website that hasn't helped either.

"Of course you go to the check my refund status on their website and all it tells you is it's still being processed," Heffelfinger adds.

Same frustration for Chapel Hill resident David Harrison as he also filed his 2020 taxes in March, "Every time they are experiencing high call volume and every time you can't get anyone on the phone. I would just like to see them having more people answering phones."

We also continue to hear from taxpayers who are also waiting on their 2018 and 2019 tax refunds. Tasha Cain says she has done everything she can to get answers from the IRS on her refund for 2018 and 2019 but still no money.

"They sent me a paperback, there was a line that I didn't fill in, so I did that and re-submitted but I haven't heard anything," Cain said. Luckily, she did get her 2020 refund, but her 2018 and 2019 refunds are sizable and both would help tremendously during this time.

IRS Responds

The IRS says it continues to process returns, and it's opening mail within normal timeframes and all returns received prior to 2021 have been processed if the return had no errors or did not require further review.

As of June 5, 2021, the IRS states it had 18.2 million unprocessed individual returns in the pipeline. However, the IRS states COVID-19 continues to cause delays in some of its services, which include live phone support, processing tax returns filed on paper, answering mail from taxpayers, reviewing tax returns, even for returns filed electronically

How long you may have to wait

The IRS says its rerouting tax returns and taxpayer correspondence from locations that are behind to locations where more staff is available, and it's taking other actions to minimize any delays. Tax returns are opened and processed in the order received.

When it comes to why your refund may be delayed, the IRS states it may be delayed because it has a mistake including errors concerning the Recovery Rebate Credit, is missing information, or there is suspected identity theft or fraud. If the IRS can fix it without contacting you, it states it will. If the IRS needs more information or needs you to verify that it was you who sent the tax return, the IRS will write you a letter. The resolution of these issues depends on how quickly and accurately you respond, and the ability of IRS staff trained and working under social distancing requirements to complete the processing of your return.

To check the status of your refund, click here.
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