This is no ordinary tax season.

The Internal Revenue Service is struggling through this filing season unlike any other in history. The agency is under tremendous strain thanks to the enormous extra burden associated with sending out three rounds of stimulus checks; coping with other pandemic-related changes to the tax code (such as the belated exemption of the first $10,200 in 2020 unemployment benefits from federal tax and new tax credits for employers); staffing shortages; the challenges of remote work by its own employees and a leftover backlog of still unprocessed 2019 paper tax returns.

The IRS is holding approximately 29 million tax refunds that need to be processed manually because of the complexities of some of the recent tax laws passed by Congress. 

As of the week ending April 9, 2021, over 8 million individual 1040  tax returns were being held in this “suspense” status until review and manual processing can take place. 

recent notice from the IRS said that some people may experience a longer than average wait for their payments. That may especially impact tax returns that need a correction due to changes made by the Recovery Rebate Credit — a tax credit adjustment for people who were owed more stimulus money — or to verify income for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), according to the agency.

Calling the IRS for information may not be much help, either.

Taxpayers may attempt to call the IRS for a status update on their tax refund, but this year is difficult to get through to the IRS on its toll-free lines.

Calls to the IRS’ Accounts Management lines are up 300% this filing season, but IRS employees are answering only about 7% of all such calls.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS. They help taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS and recommend changes that will prevent problems. 

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is aware that taxpayers are experiencing more refund delays this year than usual. Typically, the IRS processes electronic returns and pays refunds within 21 days of receipt. However, the high volume of 2020 tax returns being filed daily, backlog of unprocessed 2019 paper tax returns, IRS resource issues, and technology problems are causing delays. 

TAS understands the frustrations and hardships caused by these unprecedented circumstances. Please be patient if you learn your refund claim is not yet processed and understand why TAS cannot accept your case at this time. We continue to work with the IRS to identify ways to address this backlog. 

Meanwhile, you are encouraged to check the page, Where’s My Refund, for the most current information on the processing of your return. The IRS also has information on this issue at and

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Clergy Financial Resources serves as a resource for clients to help analyze the complexity of clergy tax law, church payroll & HR issues. Our professionals are committed to helping clients stay informed about tax news, developments and trends in various specialty areas.

This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.

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