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Tax Refunds when a paper return is filed

Level 2

I have a number of clients who file paper returns.  They have not received their refunds, and when going online to check the status they aren't acknowledged as having filed a return.  Returns sent certified with tracking and all tracking show returns delivered.  Is anyone else experiencing these delays?  And are there any suggestions?

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6 Replies 6
Level 15

Nobody was working at the IRS for an extended period of time so all of those paper returns are stacked up sky high waiting for someone to process them.  Your clients might be lucky and receive their refunds by the end of the year.

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Level 15

You're lucky the certified mail was accepted. A number of our/our clients certified mail documents were returned because no one was accepting mail.

We actually started to get receipts last week.

Level 15
Level 15

Theyve got over 10 million pieces of unopened mail to get through...this was a BAD year to paper file!


They have just begun to process paper returns that were sent the end of February.  I have a client who sent his return in on February 29th and he actually received his refund today. His return was processed in the Fresno, California office were they have resumed very limited operations.  They are, of course, paying interest if they take over 6 weeks to issue the refund.

This is what the IRS website says regarding the processing of paper returns...

Updated July 2, 2020

The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers and tax professionals to use electronic options to support social distancing and speed the processing of tax returns, refunds and payments.

To protect the public and employees, and in compliance with orders of local health authorities around the country, certain IRS services such as live assistance on telephones, processing paper tax returns and responding to correspondence continue to be extremely limited. While some volunteer tax preparation sites are operating at a reduced capacity, most remain closed until further notice.


Level 15
Level 15
I heard recently that both Fresno and Austin processing centers locked down again due to employees diagnosed with COVID.

Level 12

Ogden Service Center seems to have cleared out returns that were filed by mid-March.  

This is from a news story last week:

A few months into the IRS bringing employees back into offices across the country in a phased approach, Commissioner Charles Rettig said agency facilities will return to “full staffing” by July 15, and will prioritize tax return refunds and customer service through its call centers.

By that point, the IRS will reopen all of its processing and call centers, although Rettig said that it will require employees in some cases to work different shifts in order to meet social distancing requirements.

“We have people on the ground at each of our facilities, essentially monitoring the issues to keep our employees safe. But like everybody else, we’re worried about interactions that might happen and a potential spike at a facility. So we are doing everything we can to get back online,” Rettig told the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday.

The IRS so far has received more than 138 million individual tax returns and issued more than 93 million refunds, but IRS employees coming back to the office will still face a substantial backlog of work.

The first wave of IRS employees who volunteered to return encountered a backlog of tens of millions of pieces of mail, which included paper tax returns.

Rettig said the IRS is processing about a million paper tax returns a week, with about 8,300 employees working on the backlog. Those employees are also processing electronically filed tax returns flagged by agency systems for potential fraud or identity theft.

However, Rettig said the agency faces hiring rank-and-file employees to replace those who have retired. Budget cuts have contributed to the IRS losing about 20% of its workforce over the past decade, and nearly half of its workforce will be eligible to retire in 2021.

“We do have resource issues from the human perspective. A significant percentage of our employee base is eligible to retire over the next few years. We’ve had essentially no real hiring from 2011 to 2018. We were able to hire last year, we are hiring this year, but it’s difficult to replenish on the attrition,” Rettig said.