IRS tax refund: What to do if your refund is late and how to track it

Many Americans who filed tax returns before the coronavirus pandemic are still waiting for their refund to arrive. Here is what you need to do.

IRS tax refund: What to do if your refund is late and how to track it
Nguyen Huy Kham REUTERS

It has been a hectic three months for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) who have had to process and send out millions of Economic Impact payments on top of their usual duties, dealing with the nation’s taxes.

Deadline for filing 2019 taxes extended until 15 July

Usually, Federal invoice tax returns must be filed by during a period that runs from the end of January until 15 April but this year, the deadline was extended to 15 July. So taxpayers have been given an extra three months to file their tax return and pay any tax due because of the coronavirus pandemic. The new December 2019 Tax Law, passed at the end of last year, has extended tax breaks but caused delays for many 2019 tax forms, instructions and publications.

Some taxpayers who filed their tax return before the pandemic and who are due a rebate have complained that they're still waiting for their money but contacting somebody at the IRS is almost impossible because phone assistance right now is extremely limited - which only adds to the frustration.

Tax return filed on paper forms

It appears that the problem is affecting those who filed their tax return in the traditional way – on paper (Form 1040) and not electronically using the IRS Free File tool. The IRS announced earlier this week they due to staff working from home, individual paper returns cannot be processed at the moment.

The IRS are actively trying to encourage taxpayers to file their returns electronically, which can be done free here:

Unfortunately, if you have already filed by filling out paper forms (Form 1040), you cannot refile electronically – amended tax returns using Form 1040-X can only be made on paper.

If you are due a refund and it still hasn’t arrived, you can check its status by filling in your information on the Get Refund Status page. You will need to have three pieces of information at hand:

  • Your Social Security Number or ITIN
  • Your filing status (Single, Married-Filing Joint Return, Married-Filing Separate Return, Head of Household, Qualifying Widow(er)
  • The exact refund amount, in dollars – the exact amount shown on your tax return