Why Is My Tax Refund Saying Still Processing?

If you’ve filed your tax return and are eagerly awaiting your tax refund, seeing the status “still processing” can be frustrating. However, there are several reasons why your tax refund may be delayed and appear as “still processing.” Understanding these reasons can help alleviate concerns and provide clarity regarding the status of your refund.

1. Errors or Incomplete Information: If there are errors or incomplete information on your tax return, the IRS may need additional time to process your refund. Common errors include incorrect Social Security numbers, incorrect bank account information, or missing forms.

2. Identity Verification: Sometimes, the IRS needs to verify your identity to prevent fraudulent activity. If they suspect any discrepancies or potential identity theft, they may delay your refund until they confirm your identity. This process usually involves providing additional documentation.

3. Tax Return Under Review: In some cases, the IRS may choose to review your tax return more thoroughly. This could be due to potential errors, inconsistencies, or random selection for an audit. If your return is being reviewed, it can delay the processing of your refund.

4. Incomplete Prior-Year Tax Return: If you haven’t filed your prior-year tax return or there are outstanding taxes owed, the IRS may hold your current year refund until these issues are resolved. It is essential to ensure all prior-year tax obligations are met to avoid delays in receiving your refund.

5. Tax Law Changes or Updates: Occasionally, tax law changes or updates can cause delays in the processing of tax returns. The IRS may need additional time to reprogram their systems or update forms to reflect the new legislation.

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6. Form Errors or Missing Forms: If you’ve made errors on specific forms or failed to include necessary forms, the IRS may need more time to process your return. Double-checking your tax return for any missing or incorrectly filled forms can help expedite the refund process.

7. Offset for Debts: If you owe certain debts, such as overdue child support, student loans, or unpaid taxes, the IRS may offset your refund to cover these obligations. If your refund is being used for offset, it can delay the processing and arrival of your refund.

8. High Volume of Filings: During peak tax season, the IRS receives a high volume of tax returns, resulting in longer processing times. If you filed your return during this busy period, it’s normal for your refund to take longer to process.


1. How long does it typically take for a tax refund to be processed?

The IRS aims to issue refunds within 21 days of receiving a tax return. However, several factors can delay this process, including errors, identity verification, or a high volume of filings.

2. Can I check the status of my refund?

Yes, you can check the status of your refund through the IRS’s “Where’s My Refund?” tool on their website. It provides real-time updates on the progress of your refund.

3. Will calling the IRS expedite the refund process?

Calling the IRS will not expedite the refund process. In fact, contacting the IRS directly may lead to longer wait times, as they are often overwhelmed with inquiries during tax season.

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4. How can I avoid delays in receiving my refund?

To avoid delays, ensure your tax return is accurate and complete, double-check all forms, and provide all necessary documentation. It’s also important to address any outstanding taxes or debts promptly.

5. Is it normal for my refund status to change from “still processing” to “refund approved”?

Yes, it is normal for the status to change throughout the refund process. “Still processing” indicates that the IRS is still working on your return, while “refund approved” means they have finished processing and are preparing to issue your refund.

6. What should I do if my refund takes longer than 21 days?

If your refund takes longer than 21 days, you can contact the IRS to inquire about the status. However, it is best to wait for the IRS to process your return before reaching out to avoid unnecessary delays.

7. Can I amend my tax return while it is still processing?

Yes, you can amend your tax return while it is still processing. However, amending your return will likely prolong the refund process, as the IRS will need to review the changes.

8. How long should I wait before contacting the IRS about my refund?

The IRS advises waiting 21 days after filing electronically or six weeks after mailing a paper return before contacting them about your refund. Only contact them if it has been longer than these timeframes or if the “Where’s My Refund?” tool instructs you to do so.

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