5 Things You Can Do If You’re Trapped in the IRS Refund Backlog

If you qualified for a refund on your 2019 taxes, chances are you’re still waiting for it.

An IRS refund backlog has created a lot of problems for millions of Americans this year due to the impact of COVID-19 regulations, a lack of employees to process returns, and several changes in the tax laws. It has become a frustrating situation for many individuals and businesses.

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Updates on the IRS Refund Backlog

Here’s what you need to know if you are still waiting to hear from the IRS about your most recent tax return:

  • As of October 30, the IRS has more than 5.9 million unprocessed individual returns and 2.7 million amended returns.
  • The IRS estimates that it will take 20 weeks to process your return.
  • These returns are being processed in the order in which they were received.

Our tax experts at CRS CPA are closely monitoring the situation and can help keep you informed. Contact us if you are one of the millions still waiting on your return.

IRS Phone Lines Still Open…For Now

A report from Bloomberg Tax news service on November 22 indicated that the IRS was considering shutting down its customer support phone lines in order to stop the flood of calls it has been getting regarding these delayed returns. However, according to an IRS spokesperson, the idea is only being considered as a way to shift more resources and would be a “nuclear option.”

At this time, the phone lines are still open, but taxpayers attempting to contact the IRS should expect significant delays. In the first 6 months of this year, they reported a call volume 5 times greater than normal.

Adding to the frustration, a review of the 2021 tax filing season published in June by the Taxpayer Advocate Service of the IRS indicated that their customer service levels dropped from 79% three years ago to only 19% in 2021!

On Thursday, November 2, a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to the IRS to “urge that the Internal Revenue Service keep its telephone lines open while clearing the unprecedented backlog of unprocessed returns.”

What You Can Do if You’re Still Waiting

Individual taxpayers and businesses who are unfortunately caught up in the IRS refund backlog can’t do anything to rush the process, but you still have several options for staying informed if you find yourself in this situation.

  • Track the status of your refund. The IRS has a tool called “Where’s My Refund?” on their site that lets you digitally monitor the progress of your return. You can access it here: https://www.irs.gov/refunds.
  • Download IRS2Go. You can also check on your return/refund through the IRS’s mobile app, IRS2Go. It’s available for download here: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs2goapp.
  • Keep good records of everything! To make the process as smooth as possible, make sure you keep records of all communication to and from the IRS. We recommend that you even go so far as to print hard copies of any email correspondence you receive from them as well.
  • Take advantage of the Taxpayer Advocate Service. This is a service provided by the IRS. It is a separate division dedicated to helping taxpayers with difficult situations. Understandably, though, they are equally overwhelmed. In a recent blog about how delays in processing amended tax returns are affecting TAS’s ability to assist taxpayers, they announced that they are currently not taking on any new cases regarding amended returns. However, they are still accepting cases under limited circumstances.

    Our team of tax professionals can help you navigate the TAS system as well.
  • Be patient. Eventually, the IRS will catch up on the backlog of returns. In July, the number of returns waiting to be processed was 13 million. As we mentioned earlier, the number is down to under 6 million, so they are making progress.
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Contact CRS if You Need Help

We do not have a secret phone line to the IRS, but we do have over 40 years of experience providing individuals and small businesses with expert tax help.

Schedule a call with our team of tax pros if you are one of the millions of Americans stuck in the current IRS refund backlog. We’ll be glad to review your situation and guide you through the process of making sure your return is handled as quickly as possible.

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