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The IRS is expecting some delays in processing returns and issuing refunds this year. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Waiting for your tax refund? Once the IRS receives your income tax return, it can take more than 21 days to issue some refunds if the tax agency needs to review anything on your return. Your refund could be delayed for other reasons, too, as the IRS works through a backlog of refunds.

You don’t have to guess cialis when effective your money is coming, however. Using two IRS tracking tools, you can check on the status of your refund and see if there’s something causing a delay. We can show you how. You can also try calling the IRS live phone support for help, but the IRS warned that assistance is “extremely limited” right now. We’ll tell you how phone the IRS, below, anyway.

We’ll also explain what to do if your third stimulus check has gotten lost — track that payment here. You may also want to check if the government has back wages you need to claim. If you have dependents, here’s how to calculate how much money you might get through child tax credits. This story is updated frequently. 

Is the IRS experiencing delays processing tax returns?

Because of the pandemic, the IRS ran at limited capacity in 2020, which put a strain on its ability to process tax returns and send out stimulus checks. The IRS is now open again and processing mail, tax returns, payments, refunds and correspondence, the agency said, but the pandemic continues to cause delays in some services.

The IRS said it’s issuing most refunds in less than 21 days right now but some are taking longer, including for mailed paper tax returns. The IRS said it’s also taking longer than 21 days to issue refunds for some 2020 tax returns that require review, such as determining Recovery Rebate Credit amounts for the first and second stimulus checks or figuring earned income tax credit and additional child tax credit amounts.

Will the IRS customer service answer my tax refund questions by phone? 

While you can call the IRS to check your status, the agency’s live phone assistance is extremely limited right now, so you may wait on hold for a while to speak to a representative. Also, the IRS says you should only call if it’s been 21 or more days since you filed your taxes online, or if the Where’s My Refund tool tells you to contact the IRS. Here’s the number to call (800) 829-1040.

For more information about your 2020 taxes, here’s how to claim missing stimulus money on your taxes and everything to know about the third stimulus check.

Help! What do these messages on my refund status mean?

Both the IRS tools (online and mobile app) will show you one of three messages to explain your tax return status.

  • Received: The IRS now has your tax return and is working to process it.
  • Approved: The IRS has processed your return and confirmed the amount of your refund, if you’re owed one.
  • Sent: Your refund is now on its way to your bank via direct deposit or as a paper check to your mailbox. (Here’s how to change the address on file if you moved.)