You filed your return in a timely manner and were waiting for your refund to be sent within the standard timeline that the IRS promises. But alas, it has been much longer than that and you are wondering, “Where is my DAMN refund!”
In several recent cases it appears that the IRS is delaying refund processing and payments by several weeks because they are spending a lot more time validating tax payer identities. This is mainly due to the rise in fraud and increased number of tax returns being processed.
This article will provide information on getting help and how tax payers know their return has been held up due to additional return verification; and how to quickly validate their identity with the IRS to get their refund as soon as possible. See the comments forum below for more taxpayer experiences and tips.
How you know your return has been held for IRS ID verification
In most cases if it has been more than 21 days after e-filing your return and you are seeing no progress on your tax return processing, despite WMR checking daily, there is a good chance your return has been held up for further review.
In particular, if you keep seeing a message like the one below after a month from your filing date it is highly likely that the delay is due to your return requiring further (identity) verification.
Generally speaking if you filed electronically via most leading tax software providers a lot of the basic information and math reconciliation checks have been done. So the most logical reason for the extended delays in processing is IRS systems have flagged your return for additional verification.
Flagging of returns is done programmatically in most cases by IRS tax systems, but could also be due to specific ID flags from past year returns, ex-spouse claims or if there are multiple returns with a similar SSN (a real case of identity fraud).
There are also cases where larger than normal refund payments (deposits) are also flagged for return verification – e.g. to validate bank account details. For example I experienced this when I had a $40,000 refund (because I paid too much in estimated taxes) delayed for several weeks, following a request for ID verification.
But its only when you get a formal notice or letter (see section below) from the IRS that you need to perform additional identity verification that you know that your return processing (and hence your refund) has been delayed.
Further, you likely won’t have a tax transcript and related processing codes available until you complete the ID verification process.
IRS Identity Validation Process
The start of the identity validation process is getting an IRS letter. Until you get that, there is nothing much you can do and your refund processed status will show as “still being processed“.
It normally takes up to a month after filing to get the IRS return verification letter which will be mailed to the address listed on your latest filing.
The IRS notice will be of the series, 5071C, 5747C, 6331C or 5447. See the example below, which is a Letter “5017C – IRS Verify Your Identity” notice I received.
The letter will confirm the return was received but asks tax filers to verify their identity in order for the IRS to complete processing of the return and issue a refund.
The letter will provide options to complete this process including what to do if you didn’t file, which means you could be a victim of identity fraud.
It is critical you complete the ID verification process ASAP to move your return processing forward and get paid any refunds you are due.
How to verify your identity with the IRS
The fastest and recommended way to verify your identity is to go online and use the IRS‘ Identity Verification Service website. You can also call the IRS number (see section below for more) on your notice to complete your return verification.
You should only go to the IRS return verification website after being directed to do so after receiving the IRS verification letter which contains a unique 14-digit control number to start the online return verification process.
You will need one or more of the following to validate or confirm your identity. This must match what you provided on your most recent tax return:
- Social Security Number or Individual Tax ID Number (ITIN)
- Date of Birth
- Filing Status
- Mailing Address
- Third Party Verification Questions such as prior address, W2 information, mortgage information, etc., that only you should know.
- Estimated Refund Amount (if applicable, per your filing)
Once your return identity is verified you will see the message below. This will resume processing of the tax return and any applicable refunds.
You can also use your IRS account to start the verification process. You still need the verification letter from the IRS to get the 14-digit control number, but your IRS account dashboard will show a link to verify your tax return information per the screen shot below.
If the IRS is unable to verify your identity online or over the phone they will likely ask you to schedule an appointment at your local IRS office.
Also beware online scams – The IRS will never request identity verification information via email nor will they call a taxpayer directly prior to sending an official letter, with a 14 digit control number for validation (per screenshot above).
If you get a call from someone who says they are from the IRS, it is likely a scam unless they can provide you with a specific case number – which is found in the upper corner of the letter you would have received from the IRS.
You can only use the above method (online or via the phone) if you submitted a past tax return. If not, or this is your first time filing, you will need to call the IRS or visit a local office.
How Long Will Return Identity Verification Delay My Refund?
Once you successfully verify your return and identity, the IRS refund processing clock resets from the standard 21-day timeline. This will mean your refund payment will also be delayed.
It can take up to 9 weeks for the IRS to process your return and make a refund payment after successfully verifying your identity and tax return information. This assumes no other errors are found with return in subsequent processing.
However your return and refund status will update on WMR and the IRS2Go after 2 to 3 weeks. You will also see updates on your transcript once IRS processing is underway.
Other Options to Verify Your Return
It is highly recommended you verify your return online, but if you cannot you can also call the Taxpayer Protection Program Hotline on 1-800-830-5084 or number noted on your IRS verification notice.
You will need the same information as you would if verifying online, including current and prior year tax return information, to complete the verification process.
Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN)
The IRS has put in place and IP PIN for those who have experienced identity fraud or verification issues in the past.
The Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is basically a unique six-digit number (not your SSN or TIN) you can use with the IRS to verify your identity when e-filing your return. It is only valid for a single calendar year and a new one is issued every year.
You can apply for an IP PIN on the IRS website or one is automatically issued to you (CP01A notice) if you have been a victim of tax-related identity in the past. Your actual pin will be sent in the mail.
If you don’t already have an IP PIN, you may get an IP PIN as a proactive step to protect yourself from tax-related identity theft.
If you want to get one for your spouses or other dependents, they will also need to complete the IRS’ identity verification process.
Tips/tricks if Refund held-up for Further identity and verification
- Katie – I was finally able to talk to a real person. The number 800-829-0582 ext:652 does work. Takes about 10 minutes to get someone. Looks like I had to verify my identity for no real reason. I was transferred to number 800-830-5084 and was put on hold for 30 minutes.
All they did was ask questions from my credit report and taxes. I was cleared but they said it would take up a “max” of 9 weeks to see my return. I asked how I could check my statues and was told to check WMR but to give it a few days. Has anyone on here already received a refund after having to verify? I’m not in a rush for my money but it sure would be nice.
- Tax Payer Teed – Happened to me & my ex last year. After they drilled him about old cars & previous addresses he took matters into my own hands. He overnighted a copy of his driver’s licenses, original birth certificate, vehicle registration, insurance cards, payroll stubs, our children’s birth certificates & ss cards along with my info just in case.
This happened on a Thursday but to our surprise his refund was in the mail box that following Wednesday. Not a bad turn around considering their time frame. I should have followed his lead but i figured what’s the use they said that they have cleared up my identity. Yet my check came 6 weeks later. It may or may not make a difference in your situation but its worth a try.
- Samuel – In my case I filed on the 25th and had no progress, so I called yesterday and found out that I did have to verify my identity and would have gone no further until completed. In my case my ID was stolen last year so that might have something to do with it, not sure. I never received any notification that I needed to verify, maybe they don’t send out the letters until the 21 days have passed. I just know from this site and others that many are having to verify and they also did not get any verification. .
I just suggest those of you who are waiting for the bar to move from accepted to approved and filed around my time (Jan 25th) to be proactive if you are heeding the refund.
- Jen – I already got my money.. Thank God!! I filed H&R Block online on 1/30.. Got approved on 2/5.. Money was in my bank on 2/10 at 7am.. WMR never moved from approved either. So just be patient guys, IRS has really changed a lot with processing refunds this year.
Millions of people were pulled for review & identity verification this year which will cause a 4-6 week delay on getting your money.. It sucks but that’s what majority of Americans are experiencing this tax year.. It’s just a looonngg waiting game at this point.. Wish you all the best!! God bless!
- Judy – I just got off the phone with the IRS to find out if I possibly had to verify my ID, this is what they told me, If your refund was accepted than everything is okay, its just taking longer on account of a delay due to verification, have patience, you will get it.
I was also told you can’t go by what TurboTax is saying and unfortunately they are issues with both the WMR tool and their 800 hotline, so you can’t go by that either, sadly its a waiting at this point.
- I was also told very clearly that if for any reason you are still at received but believe you should have gotten it by now than most likely there is a problem with them being able to identify you due to a breach that took place in early January and your data was compromised, which means you will have to verify your ID for them to release your funds. You can do this by calling 1-800-830-5084.
- So basically if you have been accepted everything is fine, you just have to wait but if you’re still at received after some time then that means they’re having a problem identifying you and if that’s the case, unfortunately you will have to wait 6-8 weeks for your refund. I know how frustrating this is for all of you, as I am still waiting as well.
This is the first time I was able to get some clear info on what is actually happening, while I feel better knowing that mine has been accepted, I feel horrible for all of those still stuck at received on account of what that means.
- If you have been accepted, you are all good, they’re just asking that we have patience, it will come. But for those of you at received I suggest you call the number above to verify your identity immediately rather than waiting for the IRS to notify you because who knows how long that would take. I hope this helps clear it up for some of you, good luck!
- saffronsky – HI all, I just got off the phone with a very nice lady at IRS. My status bar has been gone over a week. Filed Jan 31st with TT, accepted Feb 1st. I was very very sweet on the phone and told her it was my birthday (yesterday) and she would make my year if she could help me.
She did say that in her system it shows being accepted on Feb 2nd instead of Feb 1st that TT told me. I told a little fib that last night I saw a message to call and that this morning that message was gone so I wanted to call and just check. She asked all the info, names, social, address ect.
- She put me on hold for about 3 min. Came back and said that my account is credited meaning that it looks like everything has processed and it is just waiting for a DDD. She said there is no offsets or debts that she could see. (which was weird because I am pretty sure my husband owes from last year) I asked if it was possible that I would have my DD tomorrow and she said yes possible but could not confirm.
She also said to not go by the status bar going away or being there, it is a computer system and to rest assured my refund has been processed, looks like it has been credited the full amount I had filed and that I should receive refund any day now. I wish I had better news. I have to register my cars by next week and could really use the funds. I hope this helps anyone!
- Rockermomliz- Just talked to my tax guy, whom we’ve been with for 4 years now. Every year we would get our refund in less than 2 weeks max. It usually would just take 9 days (including weekends). We filed on the 23rd so i was expecting a refund by early Feb.
The 3rd being the latest. With all the mishaps and misfortunes that have happened this year, along with ‘budget cuts’ and not having enough ‘man power’, I was told that thankfully, our refund was not affected, by the Identity thefts or getting ‘re synced’/stacked and had to wait until they got back to the pile’. However, even though we were not one that was affected, our wait time is longer and I should most definitely see our refund next week.
- I’m just glad, because while my case isn’t unique (4 kids, 2 w-2’s) you never know. So those that filed around my time frame, and haven’t seen anything yet, know that you are not alone. Obviously its taking longer than usual, and I am one of those that have a savings of the bare minimum right now, and I can really use it, (8 year old might’ve broke his foot last night) but just TRY to be positive. Reach out to people; call and call until you get answers.
- I was never one to really rely on WMR as every year it wouldn’t really move much, and we would receive our checks DD and it would not mention that the check was sent, much less approved. It’s your money, and you have a right to demand it back; we all worked for it, and deserve to get it without all this trouble, but as it is with life, nothing comes easy, sad but true.
Patience is hard to acquire in dire times but, in the end, I pray that it will all work out for you all. I’ve been looking at this ‘chat’ for about 2 weeks and it helped me out and I thank everyone involved. Helps to know your not alone.
Feel free to leave a comment on your experience or if you have any further questions