If you filed your 2019 income tax returns after April 15, 2020 and are still waiting for your federal refund, the IRS has updated its "IRS Operations During COVID-19: Mission critical" website to note that it has made significant progress in issuing refunds related to 2019 individual income tax returns.

While, as of November 24, 2020, the IRS had 7.1 million unprocessed individual tax returns and 2.3 million unprocessed business returns, the IRS expects to issue all refunds for 2019 individual tax returns in 2020 where there are no issues with the return.

For refunds that cannot be issued in 2020 because the tax return is being corrected, reviewed or awaiting correspondence from a taxpayer, the refund will be issued as a paper check in 2021 per the IRS's normal processes. Taxpayers are encouraged to continue to check Where's My Refund for their personalized refund status.

How long may a taxpayer have to wait for a refund? 

The IRS says it depends on where the taxpayer sent the tax return and where it is in the process.

In some locations, the IRS is caught up or almost caught up. In other locations it is processing returns that it received over the summer due to the extended July 15 tax filing due date and, in some cases, are processing tax returns dated as early as April 15, 2020. However, the IRS is rerouting tax returns and taxpayer correspondence from locations that are behind to locations where more staff is available, and taking other actions to reduce this backlog.

What can a taxpayer do? 

The IRS says that, unfortunately, other than responding to any requests for information promptly, there's no action a taxpayer can take. The IRS says that taxpayers should not file a second tax return or contact the IRS about the status of a return.

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