IRS still has millions of tax unprocessed returns; timeline, what to do, where to check
According to a new report, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is still processing millions of unprocessed tax returns. As of May 13, 2023, the IRS had 4.2 million unprocessed individual returns. Of these, 2 million returns require error correction or other special handling, and 2.2 million are paper returns waiting to be reviewed and processed.
Returns showing refunds are processed first.
The IRS says it's processing individual tax returns for which refunds are due first. Tax returns reflecting tax owed are processed last. If a payment is mailed with the tax return, the payment is separated upon receipt and deposited to ensure the taxpayer account is credited for the payment.
The IRS continues to process tax returns that need to be manually reviewed due to errors in the order they are received.
Returns filed on paper, with mistakes, or suspected of fraud can take 120+ days.
As the return is processed, whether filed electronically or on paper, it may be delayed because it has a mistake, is missing information, or is flagged because of suspected identity theft or fraud.
The IRS will fix the return without contacting the taxpayer if it can. If the IRS needs more information or the taxpayer must verify they sent the tax return, it will send a letter.
The resolution of these issues could take more than 120 days, depending on how quickly and accurately the taxpayer responds and how quickly the IRS can complete processing the return.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to check tax season refund frequently asked questions.
No action is required by the taxpayer unless contacted by the IRS.
In most instances, no further action is needed by the taxpayer. The IRS will contact the taxpayer by mail if it needs more information or if it made a change to the return. If the taxpayer filed electronically and received an acknowledgment, no additional action is needed other than promptly responding to any requests for information.
However, if the taxpayer is due a refund, their return was filed on paper more than six months ago, and where's my refund does not indicate the IRS received the return, taxpayers should resubmit their tax return, electronically if possible. It's important to ensure the return includes an original signature and include all documents submitted with the original return.
In all other cases, the agency advises not to file a tax return again. Instead, check Where's My Refund? or view Your Online Account for possible updates.
Form 1040-X amended returns.
As of May 13, 2023, the IRS had 1.43 million unprocessed amended tax returns filed on Form 1040-X. These returns are being processed in the order received, and the current timeframe can be more than 20 weeks.
The IRS asks tax pros and taxpayers not to file the same return more than once. It advises checking where's my amended return? for the most up-to-date processing status available.
Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return.
As of May 18, 2023, the IRS had 2.1 million unprocessed employers' quarterly federal tax returns – Form 941. If the taxpayer filed electronically and received an acknowledgment, they do not need to take any further action other than promptly responding to any requests for information.
These tax returns are processed in the order received. Again, the IRS advises not to file a second tax return.
As of May 17, 2023, the IRS's total inventory of unprocessed Forms 941-X was approximately 879,000, some of which cannot be processed until the related 941s are processed.
While not all of these returns involve a COVID-19 credit, the inventory is being worked at two sites (Cincinnati and Ogden) that have trained staff to work possible COVID-19 credits.
Expect to wait longer.
The IRS says it is working to process these returns as quickly as possible but alerts taxpayers that they should be prepared to wait longer than usual for their refunds or for their amended returns to be processed.
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