What does the IRS tax message, “Your tax return is still being processed. A refund date will be provided when available,” indicate?

Right after the tax return filing season ends, the biggest concern of tax filers is receiving a refund on their tax return.

As soon as the normal processing time passes, worries about refunds surround most of the tax filers. They rush to check the refund status, call the IRS to ask about refund status, and search the web engine to find similar cases where refunds are delayed.

And if the IRS database shows the message ‘Your tax return is still being processed. A refund date will be provided when available,’ which further increases the doubts and worries of tax filers. The delays in tax refunds have been higher for the tax years 2019 and 2020.

However, the IRS officials explain the reasons for the delays are due to the backlog. An estimated nine million taxpayers were waiting for their 2020 tax refund. Therefore, the same delays can be expected for the tax return of 2021.

In this article, we are going to answer the questions related to tax refund delay, possible reasons why tax return is still under process, and how to fix the problem. So let’s get into it.

What happens once IRS has received my return?

As soon as you file your tax return using the IRS free tax return filing using the website, the tax return is received by the IRS.

They start processing the return, and refunds are issued right after processing. It can take around 21 days for refunds to appear in your bank statement. However, the procedure can be longer if you have filed a paper return.

Once you have filed a paper tax return and mailed it to the IRS, it will take some days to reach the IRS. In the case of paper returns, the refund processing is completed by IRS within 6 to 8 weeks after receiving the return. After processing, it will require 21 days or more for a refund to be shown in your bank account.

It’s the standard procedure that every tax return has to go through. Around 9 out of every ten returns filed with the IRS receive the tax return within 21 days.

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Why is my return still being processed?

Now to the question of people whose return is taking longer than normal in the processing phase. Although the tax refund delays are attributed to errors or inaccurate information in returns.

However, the past events in pandemics have created a backlog resulting in delayed tax refunds and late return processing for many tax filers.

Due to these delays, IRS has stated that the normal tax refund timeline of 21 days is moved to four months. The tax refunds can take up to four months until received by tax filers.

Although there is an exceptional situation at present leading to refund delays for no obvious reasons, the common reasons for longer processing time are as follows:

  • If the tax return has reporting errors like incorrect recovery rebate credit
  • If the tax return is incomplete
  • If the tax return is affected by identity theft or fraud, the processing time increases in that case
  • If there is a need for further review by IRS, it can take longer to process such returns.
  • If tax filers have claimed Additional Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit, processing such returns can take longer than expected.
  • If Form 8379(Injured Spouse Allocation) is accompanied by the tax return, the processing time of such tax return increases to 14 weeks or more.

Should I contact IRS for a refund date?

When the tax refund of a tax filer is delayed, he first rushes to contact his tax professional about the delay of the refund. And the only question he has in his mind is should I contact IRS to ask for a refund date.

But should you actually contact IRS to ask about a refund?

According to the IRS official website, there is no need to contact IRS to check your refund status. There is an online Where’s My Refund status checker by the IRS that citizens can access to know about the return and refund status. You can check your refund status:

  • After 24 hours of the e-filing tax return for the current year(e.g., 2021)
  • After 3-4 days of filing a return for tax years 2019 and 2020
  • After four weeks of mailing return, when you’ve opted for paper return filing.
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When should you call IRS for refund processing?

Here is when it’s time to call the IRS and ask for their assistance in locating your refund:

  • If 21 days have been passed since you received acceptance notification of your e-file from the IRS
  • If more than six weeks have passed after you mailed your paper return to IRS.
  • There is no information on Where’s My Refund. It shows a message that we can provide further information over the phone.

When and How to contact IRS for a refund date?

It’s normal for tax filers in the USA to experience delays in their refunds due to the backlog. When the increased period of four weeks has also passed, and your IRS portal shows the message that the return is still being processed, it’s time to contact IRS. Getting correspondence from IRS over the phone has a low chance.

According to the reports, only 1 out of 9 calls of taxpayers asking about their financial situation were answered by IRS. Not just this, but there was an average hold period of 23 minutes before the call was connected to IRS representatives.

So when should you call the department to increase the chances of your call being answered and query being solved?

Many people report that the best bet to call the IRS is in the early morning. You should try calling as soon as the IRS opens at 7:00 a.m. to ask for the details. Besides, many people got lucky to get their calls answered in the later hours, like 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., as it’s the time when the IRS is going to close at 7:00 p.m.

Possible reasons triggering resequence or tax return remaining under process?

Here are the possible reasons why your tax refund might get resequence for processing or is taking longer than expected time in processing and disbursement of refund:

  • There might be some identity verification issues
  • If there are errors found on the tax return, the IRS issues you a letter, and the return is put back to still processing status.
  • If the refundable tax credits shown in return are questionable or contradictory
  • If wage and withholding verification is required for the return
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Types Of Letters IRS Issues When ‘Still Being Processed’ Refund Status Shown

If there are any of the issues mentioned above, the IRS will send you a notice or letter to fix the problems and get the return going. You might receive any of the following letters from the IRS:

  • 5126C –Identity verification
  • CP11/CP12 –Math Errors
  • 12C –Errors in tax return
  • CP05A –Wage and Withholding verification
  • 3219C/4800C –Questionable Refundable Credit

What procedure does IRS Adopt To Make Correction?

After receiving a correspondence letter from the IRS, the taxpayers should fix the problem and report back to the IRS with an updated return.

If there are small errors, math, or spelling, IRS correct them on its own and issues the refund that is due for every individual. However, if any of the complex situations we discussed arise, verification is mandatory.

As soon as you receive the correspondence letter from the IRS, you have to take the steps specified in the letter to correct the data. The changes are acknowledged in return, and the IRS process the return. After the processing period passes, the refund is issued that shows up in your account after 21 days.

Final Words

We have discussed everything related to the message by the IRS showing that your refund is still being processed, and the refund date will be provided once available. It is also important to understand that delays in a refund can be due to any other reasons. For instance, the tax obligations, claimed refunds, etc., of all taxpayers, and you must understand the fact while filing a return.