The start of the 2023 tax filing season is just days away, but there are millions of taxpayers still waiting for their tax refund from last year.
"It's like my taxes just disappeared," Raleigh taxpayer Zoe Jordan said. She's frustrated because she's still waiting for her 2020 and 2021 tax refunds. She says the IRS owes her more than $5,000.
"I would check online and for a while, it would say that my taxes were processing."
Jordan checked on the IRS website's check your refund section, and while it used to say it was processing, now when she checks it states, "We cannot provide any information," and it tells her to verify her filing date and also check with her tax preparer.
Jordan said she worked with the IRS to verify her identity, and the representative said her identity was verified and her refund would be processed. She also used a CPA to prepare her taxes, but she mailed them in as opposed to electronically filing them. She knows it takes longer when you mail in your returns, but she didn't think she'd be waiting this long.
"It's really hard to live out here and it feels like the money is nothing to the government, but it's everything to me and it helps me a lot and it just seems like it doesn't matter that much to them," Jordan said.
Jordan is not alone, according to the latest numbers available from the IRS, as of December, about 10 million unprocessed individual and business tax returns -- including amended returns and those returns where processing was suspended -- still remained.
CPA Faith Bynum Patterson said if you're one of those taxpayers still waiting, "It's a true patience game." She said there is no easy answer to when the IRS will process your return as the agency is still catching up from the COVID-19 backlog and staffing shortages.
"We're encouraging people to not give up, keep calling," she said.
Taxpayers waiting for their refund should could keep calling even though it may take time to get through to an agent. She suggests calling at different times during the day, if you continue having problems getting through.
Besides calling the IRS, also consider using the free where's my refund tool on the agency's website.
The National Tax Payer Advocate did just deliver this report to Congress, saying taxpayers and tax professionals "experienced more misery in 2022" due to paper processing delays and poor customer service, but the report stated the IRS is catching up from the backlog, as the agency hired more than 4,000 staff members to support taxpayers and will start the 2023 filing season stronger.
The 2023 filing season starts Monday, January 23.
"Get your documents and make sure that you go in ahead and sign up with your CPA or your tax preparer," Patterson suggested.
She also said that even if you don't have your W-2 form or statements yet, start gathering your information so that as soon as you have the necessary documents to file, you'll be ready.
Another tip to get your refund as quickly as possible this year, file electronically. This way you have electronic tracking of your return, and if there are any problems, you'll be able to see at which step. If you choose e-file and direct deposit the IRS says you will ensure accurately filed returns and a faster refund, which usually will happen within 21 days or less if you choose direct deposits.
The tax deadline is April 18th, 2023.