"I am needing the money right now to pay on my mortgage": Taxpayers still waiting for 2020 refund

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- There are less than two months left in 2021, and according to the IRS, 9 million taxpayers are still waiting for their 2020 tax refund.

"I haven't heard anything," said Raleigh resident Anthony Knight. He has proof he filed his taxes in March of this year and has been waiting since then for his nearly $8,000 refund.

"It's the most frustrating thing in the world right now," he added. He said he's called the IRS countless times for an update. "When I finally got through, I was told my tax return has nineteen more days to process, but that was more than two months ago."

Roxboro resident Mary Tuck is also still waiting for her 2020 refund. "I am needing the money right now to pay on my mortgage," she said. While battling the IRS for answers, she's also fighting cancer. "My health is deteriorating as fast as it is, that's why I need the money."
CPA Aradhana Aggarwal, who has her office in Durham, said she's seeing a delay in returns when an error or inaccurate information is made on a return, especially if it has to do with a correction to stimulus money, the child tax credit, or earned income tax credit.

"Once the holdup is there, the IRS is so backlogged right now in that everything is so very long," Aggarwal said. "They're short-staffed, it takes months and months to process those returns."

Over the last year, ABC11 has highlighted the struggles the IRS is having when it comes to processing 2020 tax returns.

The IRS blamed the COVID-19 pandemic as many workers had to work from home, and several IRS offices were closed. The IRS worked over the last year to clear the backlog, but it's still not enough. Even without errors, Aggarwal said some taxpayers are still waiting. "I have seen that people were waiting for even five, six months even though the returns were electronically filed and even though the standard time is still 21 days."

Aggarwal said retroactive legislation, like excluding up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits to be taxed and new mandates on the IRS hurt the processing time. "There have been so many changes in the laws in the past year. Some are temporary, some are permanent, but because of those changes it's had it has been very, very hard for IRS to keep up," she said.

As of October 23rd, the IRS still had 9 million returns to process. The agency said it's having to correct significantly more errors than in previous years, and on returns that require correction, it could take up to four months to get a refund. The IRS added they've processed all error-free returns received before April 2021.

Online, the IRS wrote, "Tax returns are opened and processed in the order received. As the return is processed, whether it was filed electronically or on paper, it may be delayed because it has a mistake including errors concerning the Recovery Rebate Credit, missing information, or suspected identity theft or fraud. If we can fix it without contacting you, we will. If we need more information or need you to verify that it was you who sent the tax return, we will write you a letter. The resolution of these issues could take 90 to 120 days depending 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."

REASONS TAX RETURN MAY TAKE LONGER TO PROCESS:

  • Needs a correction to the Recovery Rebate Credit amount
  • Is incomplete
  • Is affected by identity theft or fraud
  • Includes a claim filed for an Earned Income Tax Credit or an Additional Child Tax Credit using 2019 income.
  • Includes a Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, which could take up to 14 weeks to process
  • Needs further review in general


STEPS TO TAKE TO GET YOUR REFUND

If you're still waiting on your tax return, you can check the status online at Where's My Refund or you can view your account online here. The IRS said if you filed electronically and received an acknowledgment, you do not need to take any further action other than promptly responding to any requests for information. If you filed on paper and check Where's My Refund and if it tells you the IRS received your return or is processing or reviewing it, the IRS said it's processing your return, but it may be under review. The agency said do not file a second tax return.

If you check the status of your refund online, and it doesn't have any information or says to contact the IRS, you will need to get a hold of the IRS to see what's holding up your money. While it is tough to get through, try calling first thing in the morning as wait times are often shorter. For individuals, the number is 800-829-1040 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.
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