I filed the 2020 1040 by paper (mailed it) in April 2021 and still have not received the refund (Direct Deposit)

I tried the Track the Refund site on IRS and provided all the accurate info. The site keeps giving me the following message

We cannot provide any information about your refund. Be sure to: verify your filing date; check with your tax preparer If you filed a complete and accurate tax return, your refund should be issued within six weeks of the received date. However, processing may take longer under certain circumstances.

Looks like a Boiler Plate message.

It is impossible to reach anyone in IRS via phone these days. What should I do? I mailed my paper return and USPS tracking confirmed it was delivered. How do I even know if IRS has it?

  • The past couple years something has held up processing of my return and I have had to call to jog it free. Those times the phone was answered fairly promptly. Your mileage may vary. Once it took a second call to break it free. If it is over 45 days from when they receive your return you will be paid interest on the refund until it is issued. That interest is taxable next year. Commented Jun 26, 2021 at 1:14
  • @DEEM, One way to find out is to go to the office of a professional tax accountant in your area. They will know how to help and you may need to pay a little fee to them (You can call and ask them first about the fee). Commented Jun 26, 2021 at 6:58
  • 1
    The IRS website says "As of June 23, 2021, we had 17.5 million unprocessed individual returns in the pipeline" - so it's most likely yours is one of the 17.5 million. Commented Jun 26, 2021 at 13:29
  • Thanks @LaconicDroid. I think that is it.
    – DEEM
    Commented Jun 26, 2021 at 14:14

2 Answers 2


Per the IRS webpage about refund delays:

Our phone and walk-in representatives can research the status of your refund if it's been 21 days or more since you filed electronically, more than 6 weeks since you mailed your paper return or if the Where’s My Refund? tool directs you to contact us.

Additionally, as far as the Where's My Refund tool, that is fairly delayed from the mail date:

You can use the tool to start checking on the status of your return within 24 hours after we have received your e-filed return or 4 weeks after you mail a paper return.

While it's likely they're simply more behind than they let on, the correct thing to do at this stage if you're concerned about them receiving your return is to call the IRS line and talk to an agent.

  • 3
    The reference to "walk-in representatives" may refer to the Taxpayer Assistance Center, which you could try to visit if you have the time: irs.gov/help/contact-your-local-irs-office Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 16:50
  • FYI, last I heard they had just barely gotten to April a few days ago - as in April 1 - so it's quite possible it's STILL going to be a while...
    – Joe
    Commented Aug 1, 2021 at 14:46

How do I even know if IRS has it?

You can create/log in to IRS's general tax website to check if they have your return.

However, I can almost guarantee you they haven't processed it yet, so it likely won't indicate that anything has been received at all. I don't know if it's COVID impact or something else, but I remember even last year it took them many months (I think until autumn?) to process some mailed returns, if not longer.

I don't know if things will be different post-pandemic next year, but for now, my assumption is that if you want to get your refunds faster, your only options might be to:

  • File electronically, and/or

  • Pay less tax during the year somehow (but don't underpay enough to get penalized...)

Alternatively, if you owe a balance and want them to handle the payment faster, you can use EFTPS (for IRS) and your state's equivalent to make an immediate payment while they process the return.

  • (1) a check in a mailed (paper) return will be deposited immediately (by a 'lockbox' bank acting as fiscal agent for Treasury, not IRS) even though it takes weeks or months for IRS to process the return; see money.stackexchange.com/questions/136689 (2) for a one-off electronic payment you can now (since about 2018 IIRC) use Direct Pay on the IRS website instead of the multiple steps needed to set up and use EFTPS (which may be better if you have repetitive payments, and is required for payroll taxes & withholding which must be paid at least monthly). Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 19:40
  • @dave_thompson_085: Cool, thanks for the info!
    – user541686
    Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 20:34

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