If you’re lucky enough to receive a tax refund this year, you’re probably eager to receive it. The IRS says it should take under 21 days to issue a refund once it has been processed. If it has been longer than this, several factors may be holding it up. Before you start to panic, take into consideration the process and what is going on with your paperwork.

tax refund late image

1. Check on your refund status 

Before you panic, find out the IRS status of your refund. If it’s been at least 24 hours since the IRS received your e-filed tax return, or four weeks after mailing a paper return, you can visit IRS.gov and click on the “Where’s My Refund?” link.

You can also call the IRS Refund Hotline six weeks after mailing a return or 21 days after e-filing to find out the status of your refund: 1-800-829-1954.

If your refund status shows that your refund has been sent but you haven’t received it there are some additional steps you’ll need to take depending on the method you were to receive your tax refund in order to locate and receive the money:

Tax Refund By Check: if you were getting your refund by check, it’s possible the check was lost or stolen in the mail. You will need the IRS to trace the refund for you. If your tax filing status is married filing jointly, complete IRS Form 3911 (Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund) and mail it to the same IRS service center that you would file your paper return. If your tax filing status is single, head of household, or married filing separate, call the IRS Refund Hotline (1-800-829-1954) and report your refund as lost via the automated system or while speaking to an IRS representative, or use the Where’s My Refund? link on the IRS website, or the IRS2Go mobile app to request a trace for a paper check refund that has not been received.

Tax Refund By Direct Deposit: if you were supposed to get your refund via direct deposit and have not after 21 days, you could have made a mistake when entering your bank account number and routing number. If you made errors on your return the IRS does not have to fix them for you, so you will need to call your bank to find out what to do in this situation. If your bank is unwilling to help, file IRS Form 3911, (Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund) with the IRS for help getting the funds returned to you.

The other situation which could prevent receiving a tax refund via direct deposit is if the bank account information was changed after you approved your return. This could be fraud and mean your tax preparer is attempting to collect your tax refund. If you think your tax preparer has changed your direct deposit information to collect your refund, file a police report and name the tax preparer as the suspect. Then, fill out IRS Form 14157-A, (Tax return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit), and follow the instructions for additional forms and documents you will need to submit to the IRS to have your refund situation investigated and resolved.

2. Review shows errors

If review of your tax return shows errors, your tax refund could be delayed. Doing it the old fashioned way (a paper return) leads to the possibility that the IRS scanner has trouble deciphering your writing. If this is the case, your taxes must be reviewed by an actual person, and this can take several days, particularly with fewer professionals working at the IRS due to budget cuts. Tax information is then entered into a computer and put into a raw data file. An editing program checks it for mistakes, like extra zeros on income or a wrong Social Security number.

3. Victim of Fraud 

Aside from errors or being partially complete, the return may unfortunately be affected by fraud or identity theft. If someone else attempts to file taxes using your Social Security Number, or your tax preparer changes your direct deposit information, you could be the victim of fraud. Getting your refund will take longer while the situation is investigated and resolved.

4. Incorrect information

If any of your information is entered with an error, your tax refund can be delayed. If your employer wrote down different information than what you recorded, it may be another source of holdup.

5. Form 8379

If you file a joint tax return and all or some of your tax refund was applied to your spouses’ past-due federal or state tax, child or spousal support debts, or student loans, your own refund can be delayed. Fill out Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, to resolve the situation but note that it can take two and a half months to process.

6. Budget cuts

CNN Money reported that the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, indicated recent budget cuts could result in longer delays for people filing paper tax returns. In a memo to employees in January, he stated that paper filers may wait an extra week “or possibly longer” for their refund.

7. Death of a spouse

If your spouse has passed away prior to filing your tax refund and he or she is due a refund, your refund may be delayed if you failed to file IRS Form 1310, (Statement of a Person Claiming Refund Due to a Deceased Taxpayer).

The IRS asks that you do not contact them in an effort to get your refund faster. They recommend you use their “Where’s My Refund?” tool to track it yourself. Every 24 hours, the site is updated, usually in the evening. You can start checking it 24 hours after e-filing or 4 weeks after it is mailed in. Putting in some personal information will let you know if it’s been approved, and when it’s been sent.
The IRS may need some additional information at times. If they do, they will get in touch with you, usually by mail. Remember, the IRS never sends emails, nor will they ever reach you by phone. There are a number of tax scams that will target unsuspecting people this way.

If you are still unsure where your refund is, contact the IRS Tax Help Line for Individuals – 1-800-829-1040 (TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059).

Ask a Question

  • You forgot one. As a tax preparer, every year I hear from clients asking where their refund is, many of whom are forgetting a simple fact–they haven’t filed yet.

  • marie

    its been over a month since I filed my taxes why have I not received them??

    • Ashley

      I did my taxes in 2/24/14 and have not gotten anything why?

      • destinymbt

        Since refunds can be delayed for a number of reasons, the best way to check the status of your refund is by using the “Where’s My Refund” tool : http://www.irs.gov/Refunds

        Statuses are updated every 24 hours. Once you have checked Where’s my Refund (and since it has been over 21 days since you filed), you will be given instruction on how to contact the IRS. http://www.irs.gov/uac/How-to-Contact-the-IRS-1

        • Ashley

          I have the app on my phone and it keeps saying still processing. I have tried every number but only a computer talks to me. I revised my state on the 26 of April so i don’t understand why it might be taking this long

          • Raven

            Hi Ashley I’m going through that this year I filed Feb 26 and here it is April 20 and its still saying processing did you ever received your refund and how long before you got it HELP

            • ashleyn

              I did my taxes in reb 10 and still saying processing

            • Slicc Shitt Shahid

              i did mines on march 3rd and still didn’t get mines it say processing i called talked to someone did the id verification 6weeks later no return!!! i understand what you’re going through can some one tell me what to do now!!!

              • Have you tried calling this number to get through to the IRS? 800-829-0582 ext 652 It worked for a few people who have commented below.

            • Jaclyn Marie Zumwalt

              you need to contact a tax advocate. I did, and 4 weeks later, it is finally being processed again. I know that without the advocate, it would have taken about 4 months.

              • It’s great that you found someone who worked with you to get your refund. How difficult was it to get in contact with your tax advocate?

              • raven

                how do i go about doing that please help

            • robs

              i files 2/6 and it is now 6/23 and i cannot get a live person to talk to

        • Tiffany Armstrong

          Actually you prob. Won’t be given instructions on what to do…

  • core

    I filed in January and still haven’t got it. I got ahold of the irs two weeks ago finally and they said it’s because I needed to verify my identity, so I did and I keep checking and it still says processing.

    • Howard Sands

      Can you please tell me how you reached them? All I got is the automated number which tells me the same thing as the website.

  • LBrannan7

    I filed at the end of January 2014 and claimed by niece and nephews. Received a letter in the middle of February asking me to verify that they are who I say they are, and I can claim them, which I sent everything in they asked for. Received another letter in March saying that I should receive the money around the middle of May if approved. The middle of May came and nothing. Finally got a hold of someone at the IRS they told me that they will make there decision by the end of June and I should be receiving a letter in the mail within a week informing me of this. I don’t understand I have been claiming my niece and nephews for 3 years. I support these children nobody else. I have never had this problem before, Why can’t they just look at 2010, 2011 and 2012 tax return and they can see for themselves, they I have been claiming them.

    • Miguel

      What number did you call to speak with a live person. I filled my taxes on February and still get the same message. It has been received and is still being processed.

      • claudy

        im glad im not the only one, i filed in feb also and still haven’t heard anything from the irs.

        • Elvin

          I am having the same issue too, I filed in March, and still have not received it yet. Funny thing is I filed my refund on the same day with my brother and he received it after 3 weeks, and I still have not receive mine. 🙁

          • Fulana

            Glad I am not the only either… I filed in March, forgot to sign and then I got the papers back, signed them and sent them back right away. It has been now 4 months and nothing. When I check on the website it says it is still being processed.

            • Frank

              Same here this is ridiculous but they can take our money right away you know what irs stand for I rather steal yea steal hard workers money like us bastards

      • robin

        me too

  • Elvin

    I filed my tax on march 2014 and have not receive my refund up until today July 29, what should I do. I tried calling IRS but to no avail in reaching out to a representative. Can anyone help me please? Much Thanks!!

    • Elvin

      Also I have checked on the web page http://www.irs.gov/Refunds, It still states “Your tax refund is still being processed, a refund date will be provided when available.”

  • Frank

    No this is not fair at all with the IRS does but they are quick too take our money

  • Rose

    Filed March 7 still nothing! no letter from them saying I made a mistake..called them they said it is still processing.

    • Chris Gilliam

      I filed March 6, still nothing. Time to file this years! Geez!

    • George

      Im going through the same thing. Filed in jan. 2015 for the year 2014. And still saying being processed. I look on here n see some haven’t got back for 4 months. Or not at all.

  • shannon

    I still have yet to receive my 2013 tax refund why is this

    • You can go to the IRS website to track the status of your refund. Have you also tried checking with your accountant (if you used one)?

    • Peaches

      Is anybody still having this issue??????????

      • Erinworden

        I am!

      • robs

        i am

  • stillwaiting

    I filed my taxes 09/23/14 for tax year 2013. It is now 02/03/15. I still have yet to receive my taxes. What would be the cause of that???

    • brittany

      Maybe you owe someone, student loans.A llawsuit. A garnishment.

  • Pissedoffbeyondbelief

    I’m having the same exact problem and filed the same month of 2014. This is beyond ridiculous and in order To get a human to talk to you have to crack of code it’s insane. I get no answers or reason why from anyone and I’m so pissed and lost of what to do. I just filed for this 14 and wonder if I’ll ever get that as well.

    • Babe

      8008290582 ext 652

      • Alex Barron

        This number worked, thank you!

      • ПутинДайПриказ

        Got through to a very courteous man (with a very sexy voice too) who said that my refund “got stuck” in the processing and needs to be released from there, so I will get it within 30 days or I will receive another notice from IRS within that time. Ugh. Also said that he knows there have been many complaints about people unable to get to a live human on the 1800 number and that it because budget cuts and understaffing. Anyway… The waiting game continues…

        • Thanks for this. It’s always encouraging when someone has a positive outcome on finding out where their tax refund is. Can you share which 1-800 number you used to get through to the courteous man (with the sexy voice)?

  • jess

    I filed January 26th, 2015 and I still have not received my refund. Every time I look at the IRS website to try to fin my refund, the website tells me that it is being processed. What could be going on to prolong my refund?

    • SDgirl75

      I filed 1/28/15 and having the same issue. I had alimony, child support, a education credit, child credit and some other misc write offs. I was wondering if maybe all that needed to be verified and that’s why it was taking so long.

      • Marquis

        I E-filed my return since February 4th and the only update that i am getting is that, it is being processed. I tried calling the IRS at numerous numbers, and the only automated response that i am getting is that, it is being processed. I wish that they will either answer the phone or if something is delaying the refund, then atleast call you or send a letter notifying you of the situation. The irs charge you interest whenever you owe them money and pay them late. I really think that their should be a law that requires them to pay you interest on your money whenever that they pay you late….That’s would be a great way to keep checks and balances within the government.

        • SDgirl75

          I thought the exact same thing! They really have us by the cajones! I found a phone number a few weeks ago but it said not to call unless it’s been 12 weeks. :/ I have the app and check so often that it forbade me from using it! Still being processed…

        • Babe

          8008290582 ext 652

          • SDgirl75

            I thought we weren’t supposed to call until after 12 weeks after filing.

      • SDgirl75

        It turns out someone fraudulently added me on their taxes for 2013 and in an effort to protect my taxes this year they held on to them. That part was released on the 23rd of this month (3 days shy of 8 weeks after filing). Now I have to wait 6-9 MORE weeks. The person I spoke to wouldn’t tell me who put me on their taxes because of privacy rights. WTH? I wasn’t even made aware that someone tried to add me on their taxes. Is there a law against this? I want to know who tried to claim me.
        Now my IRS app is saying “We have received your tax return and it is being processed”

      • Erin

        I e-filed mine the same day. When I check status it says we cannot provide you with information about your refund. When I try to call they say they can’t accept my call to try back later or the next business. This is so ridiculous.

        • SDgirl75

          Did you call that same number that “Babe” wrote?

      • SDgirl75

        The IRS is claiming they took my entire return for tax year 2015 for taxes owed in 2008. I received Federal tax return for the last two years. How can this be?

    • Babe

      Call 8008290582 ext 652 to get rep

      • SDgirl75

        Nice! I’ll call today! It’s been 9 weeks!

        • snapped

          9 weeks is a long time, did you get an answer ?

          • SDgirl75

            YES! Ugh! It’s being offset because of my exhusband. I filed an innocent spouse form and hopefully that will fix it.

  • Kesha Chilcote

    I filed april 31st and haven’t received any thing and I’m supposed to be getting a check in the mail

  • sarah

    yeah I did mine on 2/4 and haven’t received mine either.. other ppl that did their 2 weeks ago have already gotten theirs back

  • sarah

    and I cant get in touch with anyone to find out what the delay is, its frustrating

  • Howard Sands

    I filed my taxes immediately upon receiving my w4, in late January. Its now almost two month later. not only have I not received my refund, which I really need, I’m getting nothing but a message saying its still processing. I wouldn’t be too concerned if they didn’t say I would get in within three weeks.Also, none of the reasons for a delay apply to me. Two years ago, they gave my refund to someone else, so I was a victim of ID Theft. As a result, I need to enter a pin. Its still held up for some reason.

  • mommy of three

    Hi I have filed my taxes on feb14 2015 and it is now March 18 2015 I still haven’t got my tax refund in I check the web site and down loaded the app and it says the same thing every day “your tax refund is still being processed and refund date will be Givin when available ” well I have tried calling the number they have givin me only to wait to reach someone after waiting and fighting through the Damon system to get to someone for them to hang up on me when they tell me they are putting me on hold. I filed through hrblock called them they said to call the its it is my money abd I’m entitled to it but he’ll how can I when no one will let me know what’s going on!!! Its crazy they sure like to be on it ads when u owe them and like taking the money just don’t seem to care how ling or what we do to wait for the money it’s vs someone know what I should do Cause I’m lost??

  • Marvis Brown

    I filed my taxes with liberty taxes on 1/14/15 and still to this day I haven;t received my refund. 2 months now and counting.

  • Nancy

    I filed mine on 2-13-15 got my state but haven’t gotten my federal it’s been over a month. Wtfs up

  • P

    Hi all, I did my taxes on 1/9/15 and still have not received anything. Tomorrow will make 2 months with no information based on the letter that was sent to me. I finally got a hold of a representative, and they told me they cannot seek any additional information until it has reached the 60 day mark from what my letter says. I think that’s ridiculous!!!! Now I am gonna have to call again on Monday to let them know that it has finally reached the 60 day mark, now what ?

    • Erin

      I filled 2 months ago as well… What letter are you talking about? Everytime I try to call them it says they can’t take my call to try again later or on the next business day. This is so ridiculous.

  • Sherry

    I was a victim of refund fraud in 2013. I have waited and waited on my refund check. I have recieved my refund for 2014 but nothing for the year of 2013. With it being that long it now doesn’t show up on the ” Wheres My refund”. You cant get anyone on the phone! Any suggestions although I know Im certainly not the only one?

    • ctak

      Hi Sherry, while it does take a while to get anyone on the phone at the IRS, it IS possible to get through, it will just take a while. Also, I would try sending a letter via snail mail to the IRS with some proof, information, documentation that you were scammed in 2013. Keep a copy for yourself.

  • mia conley

    whatdo i do when my income tax was sent back to irs

  • ray

    I filed my taxes on the very first day of season I used turbo tax. Where’s my refund says still processing what is going on? I filed 68 days ago

  • beefreetwo

    I filed 2 months ago an no refund

  • beefreetwo

    can anyone provide a number to speak to irs-i tried em all.

    • Beefreetwo – I’m bumping this up to the top for you, not sure if you saw it from another commenter.
      Call 8008290582 ext 652 to get rep

      I’ve had to call the IRS several times last tax season, and I think my record time for a hold was 47 minutes. Unfortunately, you just have to wait. Have all of your questions written down ahead of time so you don’t forget anything. Good luck.

  • brittany

    I filed injured spouse and it’s been 2months.i can’t figure out where it is.last yr we filed the same way and got it 3wks
    before this.

  • Chrisana

    Feb 5 filed and accepted. No return to date 🙁

  • samantha

    I filed my taxes on march 10th, I received my state return but my federal has been processing since march 15th. I cannot get a hold of a human being to speak with about this, also I have not received any papers in the mail from the irs saying anything. Please someone out there do you possibly have a reason or an answer as to why this is happening. Thank you

  • Robin Smith

    look I filed on t
    he 8th of feb 2015 my husband passed 3 1/2 months before I filed I sent them everything and more that they needed here it is almost may and still no tax return they claim they sent me a letter so I called and then they claimed they sent another one and still no letter and no return what do I do they want me to verify who I am but when I go on the website guess what they are trying to say my information is wrong I know who I am and I know all my info so really I want to know why I have not received my taxes this is b.s I need that money they had no problem taking it away now they don’t want to give it back because my husband is dead look me and my kids have been through enough I have now lost my house and my car because I needed the extra money to help out with bills now that he is gone I have been a house wife forever and have two babys under the age 3 this is just a crime and we need to do something about this I pay my taxes I pay for my own health care I lost my husband and now they want to punish me wtf

    • Will

      I completely agree. I am going through the same thing but not a death in the family. (Sorry to hear that) I filed mine on January 29th and still nothing to this day. I am highly pissed off at the fact that they do take all this money from us and then take forever to get it back to us. If we owe them money they want it right away but if they owe us then they take millions of years to even consider looking at them. We the People need to do something about this and make it to where we as Americans don’t have to deal with these corrupt people in the Government. I don’t understand why we have to be put through this with these douche-fags. One of these days Americans will wake up and overthrow the Government which honestly needs to happen soon. Have a great day and I hope that everything gets better in the near future for you and your kiddos.

  • Breanna Brooke Rebeaud

    I still havent gotten my tax refund from 2013 what do i do!!

  • Brandy

    I filed February 2nd, was accepted by IRS the same day. It is now May 7th and it is still processing. We have gotten no letters, no calls, and no answers. We attempted to get a tax advocate, but they will not accept us because we are not deemed in need of the money. If you do not have an eviction letter or utility disconnect letter, an advocate will not help you.

  • Iam Aperson

    I filed mine at the end of January and still haven’t received my refund. The IRS site says it’s still being “processed.” I assume Obamacare screwed it up.

    • maricela

      I have the same problem it’s been more than 8 weeks already and I havnt received nothing yet and when I check the status of my refund it still says that is processing still .

  • Brenda

    The IRS website indicates that my refund check was mailed 5/1/15; it is now 5/14/15 and it has it not been received. Should I be worried?

    • Tboz

      Did you ever receive your refund……..

  • Jeremy

    It has been a month since we went to the tax place. It cost 100.00 to do my taxes. And they wanted the money then.

  • erika koslen

    I filed my taxes Jan 30 and they were accepted the 31st its been nearly 5 months and I have yet to receive a time frame on when I’m going to receive it. IRS keeps running me around in circles telling me there will be a refund date soon and there never is.


    I filed Feb 9th 2015 and it’s now May 30th 2015! Someone filed false taxes in my name in 2011! I sent in a affidavit n they saying I have to wait 180 day’s! This is no fun at all I’m in need of the money to pay bills! My child’s birthday coming up and all!

    • Abbi Peña

      I am in the exact same position I filed feb9th is it now June 4 and ice heard nothing 🙁

  • Megan Jordan

    I filed in mid March and have not received anything. I called and was told that it would take 6-8 weeks from April 2nd because of a system error. It has now been over 8 weeks and still nothing. Currently on hold to try to get an answer. Is there a way to file a complaint or claim?

  • Derrick Campbell

    I filled my taxes 1/26/15 and it’s still says being processed it’s 6/22/15 what can I do?

    • Have you tried calling this number? 800-829-0582 ext 652 (to get rep). It seems to have worked for some of the commenters on this thread.

  • Laura

    It has been 7 months and I still haven’t got my refund . They state dirt2 weeks ago they t was being reviewed .they said I would have it in 7 to 10 days well that was not true , called again and they said by this past Friday . NO TAX CHECK YET . BEYOND FRUSTRATED . DOES ANY ONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS ON WHAT TO DO ?

  • Frankie Dalman

    I filed my 2012 taxes in May of 2015 I was due a sizable refund will I still receive it?

    • Did you check your refund status with the IRS? What did it say?

  • Nathaniel

    I filed my taxes in Feb or March 2015 and it is now the end of Dec 2015, the wheresmyrefund tool has gone no further then received yet I received a notice that FOC took their portion but still have yet to receive the remaining portion, what do I do? It’s 2016 now..

    • Jose

      Im in the same situation, but didnt recieve a letter. On cause of changing addresses. All year since i filed, and i would log on to the wheres my refund, its would say still being processed. Here recently the status bar appeared and said it was recieved. 21 days from wen it was recieved i should get my taxes. It has no error codes on paige

      • Jose

        I filed in feb and its the 29th of dec 2015

  • Asheville Total Tax Solutions

    I’ve always done mine online and get the refund pretty quickly.

  • Joshua

    I had 4 different jobs this year. First job I held for 5 months before I transferred to another one where I was fired for safety violation. The next one I got 2 months after that and the 4th job was a side job to the one I’ve now had 6 months. And yet somehow even after filing the taxes right and everything it is now 2 weeks after the fact and still no refund. And none of the above answers why its being heldup

  • dan g

    Hi,Dan g here, we didn’t file 2013 nor 2014 taxes, we are due a refund, this was from us being ‘nice’ to the bum biological father(hack hack) of our two grandchildren that reside with us. See, he has no right of claming these two, I told him to make it right with the IRS,as well as my wife and I, or I will send in these refund requests(which we did on December 27th, 2015. We received our 2013 and 2014 state refund checks, but haven’t received our two federal refunds,,and it is now fed 14th 2016, anyone encounter a similar situation?

    • Barbara

      My niece had a similar problem with her kids dad. He was suppose to give her money for her kids in 2013 and didn’t give her the half he was suppose to after the divorce as he should have. She went to the IRS and told them he kept the money and she didn’t want him to carry them anymore since she has them. When he filed the next year he could not get it and the money they paid him he has to pay back. She did get a check for it. Just let them know he has been filing and you have the children. He does not have the right to carry them and they will let you carry them and make him pay back. By the way, my nieces ex bought him a car.

  • Cameron Rogers

    Having this issue this year. They stole my money and when its time to cash out they take their time.

  • ericanichole

    I filed my 2015 taxes on February 3 2016, but I had to file married joint return due to my husbands back child support I had to file injured spouse.. It’s March 23 now.. How long should it be until I receive my return?

  • Satch Vincent

    After a while I got a letter from IRS said they needed additional info, April 26th will be 9 weeks since I’ve mailed them that. Have heard nothing, and calling them does no good, and I’ve only called about 3-4 times total. This is getting so ridiculous I am going to call them again in an hour or so.

  • Lynda Pietroforte

    I mailed in my Mass state tax return in march of 2016, I received my federal back on April 24, 2016. But am waiting for my state refund. When called number it states they have no info on my return. I believe I sent it to a Boston PO BOX. I believe I should have mailed it to the Andover office. Should and can I resubmit my state tax return to Andover office? Please help I need my refund! !

  • Cynthia Butterworth

    my husband and I have done our state and federal taxes end of jan. we got our federal back around 14 business days just fine. we was to get our state (GA) taxes back by feb 20th 2016. here it is almost 3 months later and still no state refund when on the website to track it still says this. Your return has been received, and it is currently being processed. Please contact the Department at 1-877-GADOR11 (1-877-423-6711), option 3 to speak to a customer service representative during our normal business hours M-F 8am -5pm. we have tried many months and different times to call from 8-5 and always on hold. or get disconnected after holding 3 straight hours! what to do now?