Why Does My Tax Return Still Say Received?

Many taxpayers eagerly await the status update of their tax return after filing it with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is common to check the IRS Where’s My Refund? tool or the IRS2Go mobile app to track the progress of their return. However, it can be frustrating to see the status as “Received” for an extended period of time. So, why does your tax return still say “Received”? Let’s explore some possible reasons.

1. Processing Time: The IRS processes millions of tax returns each year, and the time it takes to complete this task can vary. The average processing time for an electronically filed tax return is about three weeks. Paper returns can take even longer. Therefore, it is essential to be patient and allow sufficient time for the IRS to process your return.

2. Error or Incomplete Information: If there are errors or missing information on your tax return, the IRS may need more time to review and process it. Common errors include incorrect Social Security numbers, inaccurate income or deduction amounts, or missing signatures. Double-check your return to ensure all information is accurate and complete.

3. Identity Verification: In an effort to combat fraud and protect taxpayers, the IRS may require additional identity verification. If your return is flagged for verification, it can take longer for the IRS to process it. They may request additional documentation, such as a copy of your driver’s license or Social Security card, to confirm your identity.

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4. Tax Return Review: The IRS may randomly select certain tax returns for further review or audit. If your return falls into this category, it will take longer to process. The IRS will notify you if they require additional information or documentation to complete the review.

5. Backlog or Delays: Occasionally, the IRS may experience a backlog or delays in processing tax returns. This can be due to various reasons, such as staffing shortages, system upgrades, or unexpected circumstances, like the COVID-19 pandemic. During such times, it is not uncommon for the “Received” status to persist for an extended period.

6. Amended or Prior-Year Returns: If you filed an amended return or are awaiting processing for a prior-year return, it may take longer for the IRS to update the status. These returns typically require manual processing, which can be time-consuming.

7. Refund Offset: If you owe any outstanding federal or state debts, such as unpaid taxes, child support, or student loans, the IRS may offset your refund to satisfy those debts. In such cases, the IRS will notify you of the offset and the remaining refund amount, if any. This process may cause a delay in your refund status update.

8. System Updates or Glitches: Occasionally, the IRS’s systems may encounter technical issues or updates that can temporarily delay the status update. These glitches are usually resolved quickly, but they can cause temporary delays in processing.


1. How long does it take for the IRS to process a tax return?
The average processing time for electronically filed returns is about three weeks, while paper returns can take even longer.

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2. What should I do if my tax return has been in “Received” status for an extended period?
Be patient and allow sufficient time for the IRS to process your return. You can contact the IRS or use their online tools to check the status or inquire about any potential issues.

3. Can I speed up the processing of my tax return?
Generally, there is no way to expedite the processing of your tax return. However, ensuring accurate and complete information can help avoid unnecessary delays.

4. How will I know if the IRS needs more information or documentation?
The IRS will notify you by mail if they require additional information or documentation to process your return.

5. Can I amend my tax return while it is still in “Received” status?
It is generally recommended to wait until your original return is processed before filing an amendment. However, if you need to make urgent changes, consult a tax professional for guidance.

6. Will calling or contacting the IRS help expedite my refund?
Calling the IRS to inquire about your refund status is an option, but it is unlikely to expedite the processing. The IRS processes returns in the order they are received.

7. What if I need my tax refund urgently?
If you require your refund urgently, consider opting for direct deposit when filing your return. Direct deposit is typically faster than receiving a paper check in the mail.

8. Can I check the status of my amended return separately?
Yes, the IRS provides a separate tool called “Where’s My Amended Return?” to track the progress of amended returns. It is accessible on the IRS website.

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