Why is My Tax Refund Taking So Long? An Expat’s Guide to Navigating the IRS Maze
Frustrated by the seemingly never-ending wait and wondering why your refund is taking so long?
Well, you're not alone! Many expats living outside the US face this same predicament every tax season.
What is Usual Refund Timing?
The usual timing for receiving your tax refund is within 21 days of filing your tax return, if you e-filed and chose direct deposit. However, there are several factors that can cause delays in receiving your refund, including:
- errors on your tax return,
- identity theft,
- government debts,
- processing issues at the IRS.
It's important to note that the IRS updates the refund status information on their website once a day, usually overnight. Checking your refund status more than once a day won't necessarily provide any additional information.
Overall, while it can be frustrating to wait for your tax refund, there are steps you can take to avoid refund delays and increase your chances of receiving your refund on time. By following the tips and information provided in this article, you'll be well on your way to receiving your tax refund and enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Reasons for Delay
1. Backlog of Tax Returns
The first reason why your tax refund might be taking so long is that the IRS experienced a backlog of tax returns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many IRS offices were closed or understaffed during the pandemic, and this has led to delays in processing tax returns.
However, the IRS is working hard to catch up and has even extended the tax filing deadline to Oct. 16, 2023, to give taxpayers more time to file their returns.
2. Errors on Tax Returns
Another reason why your tax refund might be delayed is errors on your tax return. If you made mistakes on your tax return, the IRS may need to contact you to get more information, which could delay the processing of your refund.
To avoid errors, be sure to double-check your tax return before submitting it, and make sure you have included all the necessary information.
Also read - What is Form 1040-X: Amended Tax Return
3. Identity Theft
Identity theft is also a common cause of refund delays. If someone steals your identity and files a fraudulent tax return using your Social Security number, it can take several months to resolve the issue and get your refund.
To avoid identity theft, be sure to protect your personal information and never share your Social Security number or other sensitive data with anyone.
4. Government Debts
Finally, your refund might be delayed if you owe money to the IRS or other government agencies. If you have unpaid taxes, student loans, or other government debts, the IRS may offset your refund to pay these debts, which could delay the processing of your refund.
To avoid this, be sure to pay off any outstanding debts before filing your tax return.
When Are Taxes Due in 2023?
If you're an expat wondering when your taxes are due in 2023, the answer is April 17th. This is the due date for filing your 2022 tax return.
However, if you need more time to prepare your return, you can request an automatic extension until October 16th, 2023 by filing Form 4868.
NOTE! While an extension will give you more time to file your return, any taxes owed are still due by the original filing deadline of April 17th.
Checking the Status of Your Refund
"Where's My Refund?" Tool
So, what can you do if your refund is taking too long? First, you can check the status of your refund online at the IRS website using the "Where's My Refund?" tool.
This tool allows you to track the status of your refund and get an estimated date of when you can expect to receive it.
Contacting the IRS
If your refund is delayed for an extended period of time, you can contact the IRS directly to inquire about the status of your refund. Be prepared to provide your Social Security number, filing status, and refund amount when contacting the IRS.
Tips for Avoiding Refund Delays
1. Double-Check Your Tax Return
To avoid errors on your tax return, be sure to double-check it before submitting it. Make sure you have included all the necessary information and have accurately reported your income and deductions.
2. Protect Your Personal Information
To avoid identity theft, be sure to protect your personal information. Don't share your Social Security number or other sensitive data with anyone, and be careful when giving out personal information online.
3. Pay Off Outstanding Debts
To avoid having your refund delayed due to government debts, be sure to pay off any outstanding taxes, student loans, or other government debts before filing your tax return.
4. File Electronically
Filing your tax return electronically can speed up the processing of your refund. Electronic filing also reduces the likelihood of errors and makes it easier for the IRS to process your return.
5. Use Direct Deposit
Using direct deposit can also speed up the processing of your refund. With direct deposit, the IRS can deposit your refund directly into your bank account, which is faster and more secure than receiving a paper check in the mail.
In conclusion, there are several reasons why your tax refund might be taking so long, from errors on your tax return to government debts and identity theft. However, by following these tips for avoiding refund delays, you can increase the chances of receiving your refund on time.
And remember, the IRS is working hard to process tax returns as quickly as possible, so be patient and stay informed by checking the status of your refund regularly. With a little bit of patience and persistence, you'll be enjoying your tax refund before you know it!
1. What's the longest wait on a tax refund?
According to the IRS, paper returns can take up to 6 months or more to process. In the best-case scenario, a paper tax return may take around four weeks for a refund to be issued.
2. Why has my refund been accepted but not approved?
If your return has been accepted, it means the initial review process is completed and the return is deemed error-free. However, it does not mean the refund has been approved or issued yet. The IRS will continue to review the return before approving the refund for issuance.
3. How do I know if my refund wasn't approved?
You can use the "Where's My Refund" tool or the IRS2Go mobile app. This is the quickest and simplest way to check the status of your refund. The systems are updated once every 24 hours. You can also contact the IRS by phone to inquire about the status of your refund.