COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Rebecca Sue Justus said she files her taxes each year, well ahead of the deadline, electronically, and with the help of a certified accountant. When she filed her 2021 tax return earlier this year, Justus said she had no problem getting her money back.
“Nine days, I got it. Like I usually do, in my bank account,” Justus said.
But not her 2020 refund.
“There’s supposed to be $1,588, and then the $600 stimulus that I didn’t get,” Justus said. “I still have not got them, and still waiting.”
Better Call 4 asked Justus if she had gone through any changes that would lead to a delay.
“I have moved, I had to downsize, sold my house,” she said.
But Justus said she made sure to update her information.
“I called all the different people, changed my address, plus put in a card of change of address,” she said. “So, IRS, my tax man, Social Security… everybody has had this address.”
Justus tried to reach out to the IRS more than once over the last nearly two years, but rarely got through to someone. She also went back to her tax agent.
“He can’t get through, either,” she said.
So, Justus called Better Call 4. We reached out to the IRS, and a representative sent this statement:
“As of August 26, 2022, we had 8.2 million unprocessed individual returns received in calendar year 2022. These include tax year 2021 returns and late filed tax year 2020 and prior returns. Of these, 1.7 million returns require error correction or other special handling, and 6.5 million are paper returns waiting to be reviewed and processed. This work does not typically require us to correspond with taxpayers but does require special handling by an IRS employee so, in these instances, it is taking the IRS more than 21 days to issue any related refund and in some cases this work could take more than 120 days. If a correction is made to any Recovery Rebate Credit, Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit claimed on the return, the IRS will send taxpayers an explanation. Taxpayers are encouraged to continue to check Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions.
How long you may have to wait: The IRS understands the importance of timely processing of tax returns and refund issuance. We have processed all error free returns received prior to January 2022 and continue to work the returns that need to be manually reviewed due to errors. We are continuing to reroute tax returns and taxpayer correspondence from locations that are behind to locations where more staff is available, and we are taking other actions to minimize any delays. 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 and the Child Tax Credit, is missing information, or there is 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 more than 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.
What you should do: In most instances, no further action is needed but you may check Where’s My Refund? or you can view your account. If you filed electronically and received an acknowledgement, you do not need to take any further action other than promptly responding to any requests for information. If you filed on paper, check Where’s My Refund? If it tells you we have received your return or are processing or reviewing it, we are processing your return, but it may be under review. If you filed before January 2022 and Where’s My Refund? does not have any information, your return has been opened but work on it has not begun. We’re working hard to get through the carryover inventory. Please don’t file a second tax return or contact the IRS about the status of your return.”
But we wondered if more could be done for Justus. So, we also reached out to Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown’s office. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, he sent a letter to the IRS, pressing the agency about the tax return backlog. A member of his office sent a form to a Taxpayer Advocate Service for Justus to fill out, to try to speed up the process.
Mark Steeber, chief tax information officer for Jackson Hewitt Tax Services, offered some bad news.
“That boat has sailed,” he said. “That money’s not coming. I’ll go ahead and tell you. If the current refund’s here but not the prior year, something’s snagged.”
Meaning, Justus will have to do some additional work to get her refund. Steeber suggested signing up for a new ID.me account.
“Once you have that, you can access up to three years’ worth of tax records on the computer,” Steeber said. “A tax pro can walk through it and see what the holdup is. Then, you can source out the direction for next steps.”
Steeber said it could be something as simple as a missing form, an issue with the address change, or Justus’ return being flagged for a fraud check. But he said the ID.me account should be able to explain the hold-up in detail.
If you, like Justus, are still waiting for a refund, or have questions about your status with the IRS, you can also create an ID.me account to figure out your next steps. Do so by clicking here.