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Why Is My Tax Return Still Being Processed?

Last updated 03/19/2024 by

Jamela Adam

Edited by

Fact checked by

The IRS typically takes around 21 days to process tax returns filed electronically. However, many factors can affect that timeframe and delay tax refunds. For example, if you filed a paper return or provided incomplete information on your tax return, then you’ll likely get your return much later. While waiting for your refund, you can use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on the IRS website to track your refund status and stay informed about any updates.
If you’ve already filed your taxes and are anxiously waiting for your tax refund to hit your bank account, you may be wondering why your refund is still processing. Though there could be a number of reasons, which we’ll discuss in the article, it’s important to remember that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) processes 90% of tax returns within 21 days.
So, if it hasn’t been three weeks since you filed, don’t panic. However, if your tax return has been stuck in limbo for longer than that, read on to figure out what could be causing the delay.

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Why does your tax return keep saying still processing?

Even though the IRS processes tax returns fairly quickly, various factors can affect the timing of your refund. This includes when your tax return:
  • Is filed on paper
  • Contains errors (such as an incorrect Recovery Rebate Credit)
  • Is incomplete
  • Requires further review
  • Is affected by identity theft or fraud
  • Includes a claim filed for an Additional Child Tax Credit or an Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Includes a Form 8379, which could often take up to 14 weeks to process
If your tax return contains any of the factors listed above, expect to wait longer for your tax return to process. Also, remember that even after your tax return is approved, it may take a few days for your financial institution to post the tax refund to your account.
If you’re unsure of what to do when filing your taxes, consider using tax preparation software, such as those below.

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How to check tax refund status

The best way to check your tax return status is by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on the IRS website and the IRS2Go mobile app.
With the “Where’s My Refund?” tool, you can check your tax refund status 24 hours after filing electronically. If you filed a paper return, you could check the status of your refund after four weeks. To receive updates on your tax return status, the IRS will need information on your Social Security or taxpayer ID number, your filing status, and the exact refund amount on your return.
Similar to the “Where’s My Refund?” tool, the IRS2Go mobile app allows you to check your tax refund status within 24 hours after the IRS receives your e-filed return (or approximately four weeks after you mail your paper return). The app is available for download on Google Play, the App Store, and Amazon.

Do you need to resubmit your tax return?

If your tax return is still being processed, you should not resubmit your tax return since it could lead to further delays instead of speeding up your refund.
However, you should resubmit your return — electronically, if possible — if ALL of the items below apply to you:
  • You are due a refund.
  • You filed a paper return more than six months ago.
  • The “Where’s My Refund?” tool doesn’t show that the IRS has received your tax return.

How to speed up your tax refund

Barbara Schreihans — Certified Tax Strategist and owner of Your Tax Coach — says, “To get your tax return faster, ensure all of your personal and financial information is accurate and up-to-date before submitting your tax return. Errors or discrepancies can cause delays in processing and potentially trigger an audit, which can further prolong the process.”
If you’re new to filing taxes or want to ensure it’s done correctly to avoid delays, consider using tax software like TurboTax. Depending on what software you purchase, you can use TurboTax to speak with live tax experts who can guide you through the filing process.
Additionally, Schreihans says you should “use direct deposit if you’re expecting a refund since the IRS can deposit your refund directly into your bank account — which eliminates the need for a paper check and can save you several days in processing time.”
By taking these steps, you should have no issue receiving your refund within 21 days of the date you file.

Pro Tip

“Where’s My Refund?” only updates the status of tax returns once daily (usually at night), so there’s no need to check it obsessively.


How long should it say your tax return is still being processed?

If you filed your taxes electronically — and accurately — and choose direct deposit, you should receive your refund within 21 days of the date you file your tax return. However, if you filed on paper, it could take more than four to six weeks to process your return.
If your tax return has been processing for way longer than that, there could be an issue with it. In this case, the IRS will contact you by mail to request more information from you.

Should I call the IRS if your refund is still being processed?

If the IRS is still processing your return or correcting an error, neither the “Where’s My Refund?” tool nor the IRS phone representatives could provide you with your specific refund date.
However, if it’s been longer than 21 days since you filed electronically or more than six weeks since you filed a paper return, it may be worth contacting the IRS. You can speak with a representative by calling 800-829-1040.
IMPORTANT! Keep in mind that the IRS can be hard to reach. According to the Washington Post, during the 2022 tax season, the IRS received approximately 73 million calls from taxpayers seeking help and answered only 10% of those calls. For this reason, the IRS recommends that you call them only if the “Where’s My Refund?” tool directs you to contact them.

Does still being processed mean approved?

No, if your tax return is still being processed, it doesn’t mean that it’s been approved. It simply means the IRS has received your tax return, so you shouldn’t worry about whether you’ve submitted it correctly.

Is “still being processed” a good thing?

If your tax return is still being processed after you submitted it a few days ago, it shouldn’t be a cause for concern since the IRS generally takes around 21 days to process your return. However, if it’s been months since you submitted your tax return and you still haven’t received your refund, you may want to check in with the IRS to see if there has been an issue.

Key Takeaways

  • Various factors, such as filing on paper or claiming certain credits, can affect the processing time of a tax return. But in general, you should receive your refund within 21 days after you file.
  • The “Where’s My Refund?” tool and IRS2Go mobile app can both help you track your tax refund status.
  • To speed up your tax refund, file your tax return electronically and accurately, and choose to receive your refund through direct deposit.
  • The IRS receives many calls from taxpayers, so it’s recommended that you only call them if directed by the “Where’s My Refund?” tool.

Make sure you file your taxes correctly

Tax season can be stressful if you’re not prepared. If you’re nervous about making a mistake while filing your taxes next year and delaying your tax refund, use tax preparation software. On the other hand, reach out and consult a tax professional to ease your anxiety when it comes time to pay Uncle Sam.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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