Why Is My Tax Still Being Processed?

It can be a frustrating experience to see the status of your tax return as “still being processed” for an extended period. Many factors can contribute to this delay, ranging from simple errors to complex issues. Understanding the reasons behind this delay can help alleviate some of the frustration.

1. Errors in the Tax Return:
One of the most common reasons for a delayed tax return is errors in the submitted forms. These errors can include incorrect or missing information, math errors, or inconsistencies in the reported income. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must review and correct these errors before processing the return.

2. Identity Verification:
To protect against identity theft and fraud, the IRS may require additional verification of your identity. This process involves verifying your personal information, such as your social security number, and may require you to submit additional documentation. This verification process can significantly delay the processing of your return.

3. Missing Documentation:
If you have claimed certain credits or deductions that require additional documentation, such as education credits or home mortgage interest deductions, the IRS may need time to review and verify this documentation. Failure to provide the requested documentation can lead to a delay in processing your return.

4. Under-Review Flag:
Certain tax returns are flagged for review due to various reasons, such as the claiming of excessive deductions or credits, inconsistent income reporting, or other potential red flags. These flagged returns undergo a more thorough review process, which can lead to a delay in processing.

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5. Tax Return Volume:
During peak tax filing season, the IRS receives an overwhelming number of tax returns, leading to a backlog of returns awaiting processing. This high volume of returns can cause delays in the processing of individual tax returns.

6. Prior-Year Tax Issues:
If you have unresolved tax issues from a previous year, such as outstanding tax debts or unfiled returns, the IRS may hold the processing of your current return until these issues are addressed. It is important to resolve any outstanding tax matters to avoid future delays.

7. Manual Processing:
In some cases, tax returns may require manual processing due to their complexity or unusual circumstances. This manual processing can take longer than the standard electronic processing, leading to delays in receiving your refund or finalizing your tax liability.

8. System Glitches or Technical Issues:
Occasionally, the IRS experiences system glitches or technical issues that can affect the processing of tax returns. These issues may require time to resolve, leading to delays in processing.


1. How long does it usually take for a tax return to be processed?
On average, the IRS processes most tax returns within 21 days. However, some returns may take longer, especially if they require additional review or verification.

2. Can I call the IRS to check on the status of my return?
Yes, you can call the IRS’s toll-free number, 1-800-829-1040, to inquire about the status of your return. Be prepared to provide your social security number and other identifying information.

3. Will my refund be delayed if my tax return is still being processed?
In some cases, a delayed tax return can also delay your refund. However, this may not always be the case. It is best to check the IRS’s “Where’s My Refund?” tool or contact them directly for the most accurate information.

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4. Is there anything I can do to expedite the processing of my tax return?
Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to expedite the processing of your tax return. However, ensuring the accuracy of your return, providing requested documentation promptly, and resolving any outstanding tax issues can help minimize delays.

5. Can I still file my tax return electronically if it is being processed?
Yes, you can still file your tax return electronically even if a previous year’s return is still being processed. However, it is important to ensure that you have resolved any outstanding issues from the previous year.

6. Will the IRS notify me if there is an issue with my tax return?
If there are any issues or errors in your tax return, the IRS will typically notify you by mail. It is essential to carefully review any correspondence from the IRS and take appropriate actions to address the issues.

7. Can I request a refund trace if my tax return is still being processed for an extended period?
If it has been more than 21 days since you filed your tax return electronically or six weeks since you mailed your paper return, you can request a refund trace from the IRS. This process allows the IRS to investigate the status of your refund.

8. Is it normal for the status of my tax return to be “still being processed” for several months?
While most tax returns are processed within 21 days, some returns may take longer. However, if your return has been in the “still being processed” status for an unusually long time (e.g., several months), it may be beneficial to contact the IRS to inquire about the delay.

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