While the IRS promises to have regular season tax returns and associated refunds processed within 21 days for the vast majority of filers, it does take them quite a bit longer to process amended tax returns and associated refund payments.
The IRS has reported that they currently have over 1.3 million unprocessed Amended Returns (Forms 1040-X) and are continuing to process amended returns in the order received and the current timeframe can be more than 20 weeks.IRS processing update
So it’s not surprising many tax payers have been waiting months or years to get their amended return processed due to ongoing IRS backlogs, further ID checks and agency capacity constraints.
However, here are some tips and tricks that may get you a more real-time update on your amended return and help alleviate the frustration many of us are feeling with the IRS as we continue to wait on our refund payments.
How Can I Check My Amended Return Status (WMAR)?
It’s important to realize that the standard WMR or IRS2Go refund status checking tools from the IRS do not show your amended tax return status.
You need to instead use the IRS’ dedicated tool, “Where’s My Amended Return” (WMAR). You can use this tool to check the status of your Amended Federal Tax Return (Form 1040-X), for the current year and up to three prior years.
There are 3 status’ with the WMAR tool, Received, Adjusted and Completed. The Received status confirms that the IRS has received your amended return and has loaded into their batch systems for processing.
It does not reflect the date that actual processing has started as amended returns often require longer and assignment for manual reviews.
The Adjusted status will happen after the IRS has completed its reviews and “adjusted” your return based on amended filing information. This could take 20 weeks or more based on current delays in processing.
The IRS adjustment after processing could result in an additional refund or tax liability, or no change at all. You will get an IRS notice with details actions taken and impact to you. See more in the sections below for examples.
The Completed status will show once the IRS has sent you notices or paid any additional refunds. However as you can see in the later sections, just seeing the completed status does not mean you will automatically get a refund and additional actions could be required from the taxpayer. Check your IRS notice and transcript if you need more information.
When does the WMAR tool update?
The WMAR tool is updated once a day, usually at night if there are any new actions. So checking it multiple times a day won’t help.
You will need to provide your SSN, Date of birth and Zip code to use the tool.
This tool is first updated around 3 weeks after your mailed submission, in line with IRS processing cycles. But can update more or less frequently depending on IRS actions.
Finally, its important to remember that filers can only submit up to three “accepted” Amended Returns. So if you have submitted more than these subsequent filings will get rejected and you won’t see any status for these on WMAR.
Calling the IRS For Amended Return Status
If the amended return/refund status tool does not provide new updates for several weeks you should call the IRS. But official guidance is to only call the IRS to follow up on delayed amended return refund status’ after 12 weeks.
The IRS amended tax return (toll-free) number to call for checking status is 1-866-464-2050. Both the WMAR and IRS number have English and Spanish options.
Just be mindful that getting a live agent can require a few attempts and expect some long waits.
IRS Transcript for Amended Return Status and Refund Payment Date
This can provide useful insight, per the screenshot below, if the above methods are not providing you with updated or detailed enough information
As you can see above, transcript codes 971 and 977 on your tax transcript show that your amended return was received and is being processed by the IRS.
A lot of folks with delayed amended returns will see the 971 and 977 codes for a long time on their transcript. It could several months to move to the next stage, reflected in the next code.
However you will need to wait till you see code 960 (appointed representative) which will be the date an IRS agent was assigned and starts reviewing/processing your amended return, which a lot of times is a highly manual process.
Like transaction codes for regular returns, you may see code 971 if a notice is issued around your return. This could require you at times to provide additional information to the IRS, for which instructions will be provided in the notice/letter.
Once the processing is completed by the IRS, you will see code 846 (refund issued) on your return. Note the date as well, as this will also be correlated to when you get your direct deposit or check. Generally you should receive your refund payment within 2 to 5 days of this date.
If you were due a refund, which was delayed due to IRS processing, you will also see the interest amount credited to your account. This may come as a separate payment to your refund.
Amended Return and Refund Delays Persist
Many filers are seeing still in process status in the WMAR tool reflecting the ongoing delays in the IRS for processing tax returns, which includes Amended returns from recent tax seasons.
The above message basically means the amendment hasn’t been processed by the IRS within the standard timeframe.
It does not necessarily mean there is an issue with your amended return. It’s just that the IRS has not got around to processing (and a lot of times it is a manual activity) your amended return.
If there are errors with your amended return, is incomplete or the IRS needs more verification information, they will send you a notice with additional details. See more IRS FAQs here on amended return processing.
Processing complete, but no refund payment!
Unfortunately even if the WMAR status shows processed like the screenshot below, many taxpayers are reporting ongoing delays with seeing their expected refund payment.
The reason for this is that the completed WMAR status does not necessarily mean a refund is forthcoming. This status just means that processing by the IRS has been complete and the next action could result in additional taxes (or assessments), a request to provide more information or an adjusted refund.
This is why it is important to pay attention to the notes/message below the status bar which provides more insight into next steps and what to expect. You should also check your transcript for more details and call the IRS number listed (if provided).
But you will need to ultimately wait for the IRS to send an official notice to see what actions were taken or are required from you as it relates to your amended return. All this, unfortunately, could mean a longer wait time to see your refund.
How Long Will it Take to Get My Refund Payment?
Based on the latest tax season statistics, it is taking 6+ months in some cases for the IRS to clear backlogs, which includes amended returns or those that require significant validation.
Unfortunately you cannot do much (even calling the IRS or taxpayer advocate service) to expedite this. You’ll just have to be patient and wait for IRS processing to commence.
Once this happens, you can review your free IRS transcript for more details and transaction codes (see above section on how to read this).
See more around amended return processing and refund delays in this video.
IRS Amended Return Processing Schedule
Unlike the regular IRS refund processing schedule where refunds are processed within 3 weeks, you will have to wait up to 20 weeks or more for the IRS to process amended returns since they prioritize regular returns.
This has been exacerbated in recent years due to IRS backlogs and staffing shortages. For amended returns with issues or further corrections, the wait time could be several months with several IRS interactions.
Note that amended return refund payments can now be made via direct deposit versus only mailed check payments, which was a major change introduced in 2023. This selection is available on the latest 1040-X form and should improve the speed and security of refund payments.