Why Is My Tax Refund Delayed?

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  • The IRS commonly issues tax refunds within 21 days.
  • Factors like filing on paper, making mistakes, or not choosing direct deposit could cause a delay.
  • The IRS has a "Where's My Refund" tool that tax filers can use to track the status of any money they're owed.

There are different reasons your refund might be taking longer to arrive.

So you worked hard to finish filing your taxes, and lo and behold, the IRS owes you money once again. Many people get a tax refund each year, but if you filed your return several weeks ago, you may be wondering why that money hasn't yet arrived.

There are different reasons why your tax refund may be taking longer than usual this year. Here are some to consider before you panic.

1. You filed your taxes on paper

The IRS states on its website that it typically issues refunds for electronically filed returns within 21 days of receipt. But if you file on paper, your refund could take four weeks or longer to arrive.

Based on recent years, that four-week time frame is probably optimistic. The IRS has been grappling with backlogs from previous tax seasons it hasn't finished working through. And it's hard to know whether the agency will prioritize newly filed tax returns for 2022 this season or not. So all told, if you sent in your taxes by mail, you shouldn't be shocked if it takes more like six to eight weeks to get your money.

Furthermore, there's always the chance that your tax return got lost in the mail. And so you may experience a further delay by virtue of a lag in getting your return over to the IRS in the first place.

2. You made a mistake on your tax return

The IRS will generally try to reconcile certain tax return errors, like math mistakes, rather than reject a return outright. But some issues might cause your tax return to get rejected, which will inevitably result in a delayed refund. These include claiming a dependent who was claimed on a separate return, entering the wrong Social Security number, or choosing the wrong filing status.

Even if your actual tax return contains all the right information, all it takes is the wrong bank account details to delay your refund. So if you signed up for direct deposit but messed up your bank account or routing number, you can expect it to take longer for your refund to arrive.

3. You didn't sign up for direct deposit

If you're waiting for a check from the IRS to arrive in the mail, expect it to take longer than direct deposit. You may have chosen this option if you didn't have a checking account at the time of your filing or if you felt it would be easier to get a physical check.

How to check on the status of your refund

If you're tired of sitting around wondering why your tax refund is delayed, one option is to use the "Where's My Refund" tool on the IRS's website. You'll generally have to wait at least 24 hours from submitting an electronic return for this tool to work, but from there, you can look to see what the status of your refund is.

You can also call the IRS if you want to speak to someone about a delayed refund. But during the month of April in particular, you might be subjected to extremely lengthy wait times, so using the online tool could be a much less frustrating option.

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