Q&A: Getting your delayed refund

Dear Liz: Here’s another option for the person whose tax return got amended and who was still waiting for a refund. Contact your member of Congress or U.S. senator. They have constituent service staff who might be able to prod the IRS. This worked for our family when we learned my late father was owed two refunds from a few years before his death. The abysmal IRS phone system kept hanging up on me. My U.S. senator happens to sit on an IRS oversight committee and his staff is the only reason we finally received the refund checks after 11 months of wrangling.

Answer: Thanks for sharing your experience. Constituent service staffs can be helpful in resolving serious problems with various government agencies, although many people currently expecting refunds will simply have to wait to get their money. That’s extremely unfortunate, since refunds are a financial lifeline for many struggling households.

As mentioned in the previous column, the IRS is still slogging through a massive backlog created by the pandemic and years of inadequate funding. Getting through on the phone remains difficult, so people’s first stop should be the IRS.gov website, which offers a number of self-help resources for routine tasks, including the “Where’s My Refund?” tool, the “Where’s My Amended Return?” status tracker and a wealth of articles, publications and calculators.

The next stop might be the Taxpayer Advocate Service, which allows taxpayers to file a request for assistance if a missing refund is causing financial difficulties. The service is also warning about significant delays in helping taxpayers because of the IRS backlog.

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