Why My Taxes Still Processing: Understanding the Delay

Tax season can be a stressful time for many individuals, especially when there are delays in the processing of tax returns. If you find yourself wondering why your taxes are still processing, here are some key factors that may contribute to the delay.

1. Incomplete or Incorrect Information: One common reason for processing delays is when taxpayers submit incomplete or incorrect information on their tax returns. This may include missing documents, errors in calculations, or incorrect personal details. When such discrepancies are identified, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) needs additional time to review and resolve these issues.

2. High Volume of Filings: The IRS processes millions of tax returns each year, and the sheer volume can lead to delays. During peak tax season, the agency may experience a backlog of returns, causing delays in processing times. This is especially true if there are system glitches or issues with their online filing systems.

3. Tax Return Errors: Errors on your tax return can result in processing delays. Common mistakes include incorrect Social Security numbers, mismatched income information, or failing to sign the return. Double-checking your return for accuracy can help avoid such delays.

4. Identity Theft Concerns: The IRS takes identity theft seriously and has implemented various measures to combat it. As a result, they have enhanced their verification processes, which may lead to extended processing times for certain tax returns. If the IRS suspects identity theft, they may request additional documentation to confirm your identity, causing further delays.

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5. Manual Review: In some cases, tax returns may be selected for manual review. This can occur if certain deductions or credits claimed on the return trigger suspicion or if the taxpayer is flagged in the system. Manual reviews require additional time and resources, resulting in delays for those returns.

6. Prior-Year Tax Issues: If you have unresolved tax issues from previous years, such as outstanding balances or unfiled returns, it can impact the processing of your current return. The IRS may hold your current return until these prior issues are resolved, causing delays in processing.

7. Refund Adjustments: If you claimed certain refundable tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit, the IRS is required by law to hold refunds until mid-February. This delay is intended to allow time for the agency to verify the accuracy of these claims, which could lead to longer processing times.

8. COVID-19 Pandemic Impact: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted IRS operations, leading to delays in processing tax returns. The pandemic has disrupted their workforce, causing staff shortages and hindering their ability to process returns efficiently.


1. How long does it usually take for the IRS to process tax returns?
The IRS aims to process electronic tax returns within 21 days, while paper returns can take up to six weeks.

2. What should I do if my tax return is still processing after 21 days?
If your return is still processing after 21 days, you can check its status using the IRS’s “Where’s My Refund?” tool on their website.

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3. Will calling the IRS help expedite my refund?
No, calling the IRS will not expedite the processing of your return. The representatives generally do not have access to expedite refunds.

4. Can I still file my tax return if the deadline has passed?
Yes, you can file your tax return after the deadline, but late filing may result in penalties and interest on any taxes owed.

5. Will filing an amended return further delay my refund?
Yes, filing an amended return will likely result in additional delays, as these returns require manual processing.

6. Can I track the progress of my tax return?
Yes, you can track the progress of your tax return using the IRS’s “Where’s My Refund?” tool or by calling their automated hotline.

7. How can I avoid processing delays in the future?
To avoid processing delays, ensure that your tax return is accurate, complete, and includes all necessary documentation.

8. What should I do if I suspect identity theft is causing the delay?
If you believe your tax return is delayed due to identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit for assistance.

In conclusion, several factors can contribute to the delay in processing tax returns. Understanding these reasons and addressing any potential issues can help alleviate concerns and expedite the processing of your taxes. Patience and regular communication with the IRS can also provide updates on the status of your return.

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