IRS says it is working through delayed refunds, customer service wait times

The IRS acknowledges right now only about 20% of callers have been getting through to live IRS agents.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As Americans filed their 2021 returns this week, millions are still waiting for refunds from previous years.

Judy Seymour told the Action News Troubleshooters she and her husband never got a refund for their 2020 taxes, even though they filed one year ago.

"We tried calling and calling, calling and could never get through. We still haven't heard anything and when I go online and check, it just says, 'No information available,'" Seymour said.

The IRS acknowledges right now only about 20% of callers have been getting through to live IRS agents.

It also admits it still has millions of unprocessed returns from its pandemic-related backlog.

"Especially if it was done with paper, it hasn't been processed yet. We are working on it. That is our top priority," said Luis Garcia with the IRS.

The IRS says it's implementing a faster process to hire 10,000 additional staff members this year.

"It's your money. We're going to get it to you. We're going to get it to you with interest," Garcia said.

Meantime, here are some tips for next filing season:
"If you're like 70% of all Americans make less than $73,000 a year, you can do your taxes completely for free. If you start first at and then click on Free File. If you want guaranteed 100% totally free tax prep software, start first at That's the only place where we're going to guarantee you don't have to pay any fees," Garcia said.

And remember, to get an extension, you must file for one. You can do that for free electronically as well. It'll give you six more months to file. However, you must estimate and pay what you owe by midnight. Whatever you over-pay, you will get back as a refund.

"If you don't file and you don't pay, the penalty is 10 times as much," Garcia said.

To check your refund, go to the Where's My Refund tool on It's updated once a day at around 4 a.m.

The good news is Garcia told the Troubleshooters that 2021 refunds are getting processed on time. He said a separate team of agents are working on the backlogged returns.

The IRS says 90% of taxpayers who file electronically and ask for direct deposit for their 2021 refunds are getting their money in 21 days or less. And the IRS Commissioner told Congress last month, he is optimistic the agency will get through the backlog from the 2020 and 2021 tax seasons by the end of the year.

Any time of year, you do need to be aware of tax-related scams. Click here for more information.

The Troubleshooters did reach out to the IRS about the Seymour's refund. We will keep you updated on what we hear back.
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