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Tax Refund Delays: The Top 9 Reasons Your IRS Money Is Late


Some delays can be avoided with good preparation while others are less avoidable.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part Taxes 2022CNET’s coverage of the best tax software and everything you need to file quickly, accurately and on time.

you have about another three weeks file your tax return or request an extension — the day of the tax deadline is April 18. If you have already submitted your tax return and are waiting for a tax refundit should arrive in about 21 days, assuming you e-filed it with direct deposit.

But what if three weeks have passed since your deposit and there is still no refund? the IRS announced March 23 that some refunds might take a little longer, listing a variety of common factors that can delay your tax refund arriving on time.

“The IRS warns taxpayers not to count on receiving a refund by a certain date, especially for large purchases or bill payments,” the agency said. You should also be aware that it may take the bank several days to process the deposit before it reaches your account. Online payment services like Venmo and Cash App avoid processing delays and deliver your money two days early.

Read on to learn about some of the most common reasons your IRS money could be delayed this year. To find out more, find the best free tax softwaresee how track your refund to your bank account Where your mailboxand learn to create an IRS account online. We will keep this story updated.

Your tax return contains errors or is incomplete

When you file your tax return, it’s important to check all the information you’ve included to make sure it’s accurate. For example, do not confuse the number of state taxes withheld with federal taxes withheld. Before submitting your taxes to the IRS, simply take a look to correct any potential errors and make sure you have completed each field.

Also, if you received child tax credit payments last year, make sure the amount Letter 6419 is the amount you received. If an incorrect amount is entered, the IRS will need to examine your tax return further, than the the agency says will result in “significant delay”.

Note that if there is an issue that needs to be resolved after you submit your return, the IRS will first attempt to proceed without contacting you. This means that it may take days or weeks before you know there is a problem.

You owe money to the IRS

If you owe the IRS back taxes, the agency may take all or part of your tax refund to pay off that debt. If your refund contains more money than you owe, you will receive the remaining balance by direct deposit or by check in the mail, but this may be delayed. Taxpayers whose refunds are used by the IRS to cover existing payment obligations should receive a Notice CP49 in the email.

Even if you don’t owe the IRS any money, the agency may keep your tax refund money if you have other debts to state or federal agencies. the Treasury compensation program allows the IRS to take all or part of your tax refund to pay obligations such as alimony, state taxes, or unemployment compensation refunds. Such debts could delay the arrival of your remaining tax refund or eliminate it altogether.

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Your bank details are incorrect

Have you changed your bank account since your last tax return? If so, pay close attention to what the direct deposit information says when you file your return this year. If you accidentally forget to update it with your new direct deposit details, your refund will be returned to the IRS. This will likely result in a paper check being sent to your doorstep, which could take several weeks longer to arrive.

You filed a paper tax return

This year, the IRS is encouraging taxpayers to file electronically and set up direct deposit to collect their refunds faster. With mail delays, it may take the IRS a while to receive your return in the mail and even longer to issue a paper check.

Filing your return online rather than by mail is more important than ever this year to avoid late refunds, the taxman says. Instead of a paper tax return, use one of these free online tax filing services so you don’t have to wait to receive your money.

You didn’t enter your stimulus payments correctly

In 2021, most Americans received a third stimulus check payment tied to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although this money is not taxable, it must be reconciled on your tax return if you are claiming the salvage rebate credit.

During the last House Ways and Means Committee testimony, IRS Commissioner Charles P. Retting said that in 2020 the IRS “received well over 10 million returns” where taxpayers did not properly reconcile their stimulus payments with the amounts seized for their salvage rebate credits. These returns require manual review and create long delays.

If you plan to claim the recovery refund credit on your tax return, learn how to avoid this mistake by using IRS Letter 6475 or your online IRS account.


The child tax credit money has been out since mid-February.

Sarah Tew/CNET

You filed Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allowance

It sounds painful, but this form has nothing to do with physical injuries or disabilities.

When a married couple jointly files a federal debt, the IRS can garnish their tax refund to offset the money they owe. If only half of the couple owes the money, the other partner may be considered “aggrieved” and claim at least part of the expected tax refund. Enter IRS Form 8379.

Although not as common as some of the other causes, this late tax refund is significant. According to form 8379 instructionstaxpayers filing the form should expect a processing time of up to 14 weeks, or 11 weeks if filing electronically.

The IRS suspects identity theft

If the IRS flags a tax return as having a possible risk of identity theft, the agency will hold your refund until your identity is verified. When this happens, you will likely receive a Letter 5071C which provides instructions for proving your identity. If your tax return is legit, don’t panic – a letter from the IRS doesn’t mean there’s proof of identity theft, just a suspicion.

Taxpayers can verify their identity on the IRS websitewhich currently requires create an ID.me account, or by calling a dedicated phone number listed on the IRS letter. If these methods fail, you will need to schedule an in-person appointment at a local IRS office.

One method to avoid delays related to identity theft is to create an “Identity Protection PIN” or PIN-IP. This unique six-digit identifier is known only to you and the IRS and prevents anyone from filing a return on your behalf. The IP PIN will only last for one year – you will need to create a new one next tax season if you want the same level of identity protection. You will need an ID.me account to create an IP PIN online, although it is possible to acquire an IP PIN using IRS Form 15227 (PDF) and a telephone interview or in-person appointment.

You have filed an amended tax return

It can happen to anyone – you forgot a form or major deduction, or you accidentally chose the wrong filing status. If the change to your return is significant enough, you will want to file an amended return. The IRS allows anyone who files their tax return electronically to also file their amended return, but only for the current year.

If you file an amended return, you will need to be patient. The IRS warns that amended returns may take up to 16 weeks treat. Before filing an amended return, you may want to wait to receive the tax refund from your original return. The IRS can often correct small errors and adjust your tax refund accordingly. The agency provides you with an online tool to help you determine if you need to file an amended return.

Your statement requires further investigation

As mentioned above, if you see a message that your tax return needs further review by the IRS, you can expect your refund to arrive later than the three-week average. For example, if you receive a Notice CP07, this means the IRS has received your tax return and is holding your refund until further review. You may receive this notice if you are claiming treaty benefits or deductions from the Annex A section (PDF) of your taxes.

If the agency finds no issues, your refund could arrive in six to 12 weeks, assuming no tax is due. If the IRS finds any issues with your return, they will send you a notice with instructions on what to do within that same time frame. This means that you will receive your refund months later than expected.

For more information, here are the most important dates and deadlines to file your taxes. Too, here are 10 tax changes which may affect the amount of your refund, and 13 deductions and tax credits to boost your refund.