Tax refund delays? Where is your money and how to track it

The struggle is real. Some taxpayers have been waiting months to get their tax refunds due to an IRS backlog of around 35 million unprocessed returns, according to last month’s National Taxpayer Advocate report. On top of challenges created by the pandemic, the IRS has been disbursing stimulus checks, adjusting returns and calculating other tax credits. And it just issued another round of tax refunds for overpayment of taxes on 2020 unemployment compensation (that’s some good news, at least).

What should you do if you need your tax money to cover household expenses or pay debt? Live assistance by phone is a rare occurrence; many callers wait on hold or aren’t connected due to high call volumes. So, how can you check the status of your money online without calling the IRS? Is it possible to check your tax refund on 2020 unemployment benefits the same way? And does an IRS TREAS 310 transaction mean your refund has been deposited?

We’ll do our best to answer these questions and do the legwork for you. To learn more on economic relief aid, here are some ways to know if you qualify for the child tax credit payments that went out this week. If you’re wondering about future stimulus payments or the latest infrastructure deal, we can tell you about that, too. This story is updated on a regular basis.

 What’s an IRS TREAS 310 bank transaction? 

If you receive your tax refund by direct deposit, you may see IRS TREAS 310 for the transaction. The 310 code simply identifies the transaction as a refund from a filed tax return in the form of an electronic payment (direct deposit). This would also apply to those receiving an automatic adjustment on their tax return or a refund due to March legislation on tax-free unemployment benefits. You may also see TAX REF in the description field for a refund.

If you received IRS TREAS 310 combined with a CHILD CTC description, that means the money is for a monthly advance payment for the enhanced child tax credit.

If you see a 449 instead of 310, it means your refund has been offset for delinquent debt.

What’s creating the delays in issuing tax refunds this year?

Because of the pandemic, the IRS ran at restricted capacity in 2020, which put a strain on its ability to process tax returns and created a backlog. The combination of the shutdown, three rounds of stimulus payments, challenges with paper-filed returns and the tasks related to implementing new tax laws and credits caused a “perfect storm,” according to a National Taxpayer Advocate review of the 2021 filing season to Congress.

The IRS is open again and currently processing mail, tax returns, payments, refunds and correspondence, but limited resources continue to cause delays. The IRS said it’s also taking more time for 2020 tax returns that need review, such as determining recovery rebate credit amounts for the first and second stimulus checks — or figuring earned income tax credit and additional child tax credit amounts.

Here’s a list of reasons your income tax refund might be delayed:

  • Your tax return has errors.
  • It’s incomplete.
  • Your refund is suspected of identity theft or fraud.
  • You filed for the earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit.
  • Your return needs further review.
  • Your return includes Form 8379 (PDF), injured spouse allocation — this could take up to 14 weeks to process.

If the delay is due to a necessary tax correction made to a recovery rebate credit, earned income tax or additional child tax credit claimed on your return, the IRS will send you an explanation. If there’s a problem that needs to be fixed, the IRS will first try to proceed without contacting you. However, if it needs any more information, it will write you a letter…Read more>>


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