What Does It Mean When IRS Says Still Being Processed?

When the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says that your tax return is “still being processed,” it means that they have not yet completed reviewing and verifying all the information provided in your return. This status typically appears on the IRS Where’s My Refund? tool or the IRS2Go mobile app.

The “still being processed” message can be frustrating for taxpayers who are eagerly awaiting their refunds or have concerns about the status of their return. However, there are several reasons why the IRS may need additional time to process your return.

1. Backlog of Returns: The IRS processes millions of tax returns each year, and sometimes they experience delays due to the sheer volume of returns they receive. This can result in longer processing times.

2. Errors or Incomplete Information: If there are errors or missing information in your tax return, the IRS may need to request additional documentation or clarification. This can cause a delay in processing your return.

3. Identity Verification: In some cases, the IRS may need to verify your identity to ensure that it is indeed you who filed the return. This can happen if there are indications of identity theft or if your return raises red flags for potential fraud.

4. Manual Review: Certain returns may be flagged for a manual review by an IRS agent. This can occur if your return contains complex transactions, high-income amounts, or other unusual circumstances that warrant further scrutiny.

5. Errors in Taxpayer’s Favor: If the IRS identifies errors in your return that result in a larger refund than anticipated, they may take additional time to verify and process the return accurately.

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6. Examination or Audit: If your return has been selected for examination or audit, it will likely take longer to process. The IRS conducts these reviews to ensure compliance with tax laws and regulations.

7. Financial Obligations: If you owe any outstanding tax debt, child support, or other federal obligations, the IRS may use your refund to offset these amounts. This can delay the processing of your return until the offset has been applied.

8. System Glitches or Technical Issues: Occasionally, the IRS experiences technical difficulties that can affect the processing of tax returns. These issues can range from system maintenance to software glitches, which may result in delays.


1. How long does it take for the IRS to process a tax return?
The IRS typically processes most tax returns within 21 days. However, certain circumstances, as mentioned above, can cause delays.

2. Can I contact the IRS to speed up the processing of my return?
Unfortunately, contacting the IRS will not expedite the processing of your return. The best course of action is to wait for the “still being processed” status to change.

3. Should I be concerned if my return is still being processed for an extended period?
If your return has been in the “still being processed” status for more than 21 days and you have not received any correspondence from the IRS, you may consider reaching out to them to inquire about the status of your return.

4. Will the IRS notify me if they need additional information?
Yes, if the IRS requires additional information or documentation, they will send you a letter or notice explaining what they need and how to provide it.

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5. Can I still file my tax return electronically if the IRS says it’s still being processed?
Yes, you can still e-file your tax return for the current year, even if a prior year’s return is still being processed.

6. Will the “still being processed” status delay my refund?
Yes, the “still being processed” status indicates that your refund will be delayed until the IRS completes their review and processing of your return.

7. Can I check the status of my return if the IRS says it’s still being processed?
Yes, you can use the IRS Where’s My Refund? tool or the IRS2Go mobile app to check the status of your return.

8. Is there anything I can do to speed up the processing of my return?
In most cases, you will need to wait for the IRS to complete their processing. However, if you have concerns about the delay, you can contact the IRS to inquire about the status and any potential issues.

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