Tax News

IRS Tax Return Processing Delays 2023: Essential Updates

by Kelly Hanley

As your friendly neighborhood tax attorney with two decades of experience wrestling with the IRS, I’m here to unravel the spaghetti of tax confusion, particularly with the infamous IRS Tax Return Processing Delays 2023 issue. So, keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times as we traverse this roller coaster ride of tax returns, refund status, and even some pandemic-themed curveballs.

Understanding the IRS Schedule: When Paper and Pixels Collide

We often perceive the IRS as a monolithic entity, always efficient and never erring. But it’s composed of mere mortals like you and me, albeit ones with considerably more affinity for numbers and federal income tax regulations. Take, for instance, the IRS’s claim that all individual returns (paper and electronic) received before January 2023 have been processed. Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s about as simple as assembling an IKEA bookcase without instructions.

They further add that they’re opening mail within standard time frames, thus indicating that all 2021 tax returns have been processed, unless, of course, they had errors or needed a review. In IRS parlance, the word “review” can often translate into “kick back, relax, and wait”. So here’s where our saga of the IRS Tax Return Processing Delays 2023 truly begins.

Unprocessed Returns: The Black Hole of Filing Taxes

Now imagine for a moment a giant scoreboard, but instead of tracking scores, it’s tracking unprocessed tax returns. As of May 13, 2023, that number stood at a whopping 4.2 million! Yes, you read that right. This high score includes returns from tax years 2022 and 2021 that need revision or correction and late submissions from yesteryears. 

Among these, 2 million returns are in the “sin bin” for error correction or special handling, while 2.2 million are paper returns awaiting their moment in the spotlight. And since these returns require a personal touch from an IRS employee, they’re not exactly in the express lane. In fact, they may take more than 21 days to process.

Current Tax Season: An Olympic Sport?

During each tax season, the IRS appears to operate in a manner resembling the chaotic charm of an Olympic event. They begin by processing returns due for refunds first, followed by those reflecting tax due (after all, the IRS has bills to pay, too). But if you’ve mailed a payment with your tax return, it gets swiftly separated upon receipt and deposited.

Now, any tax return demanding manual review due to errors gets relegated to the end of the queue. Also, let’s not forget those returns that need a “second look.” That’s IRS-speak for “we need more information or need you to verify you sent the return.” If you’re in that boat, expect a letter and potentially a wait of over 120 days. In short, the “hurry up and wait” military adage from my husband’s Marine Corps days seems perfectly applicable to this tax season.

Identity Theft: A Taxing Issue

In the realm of taxation, identity theft has emerged as the arch-nemesis for many taxpayers. To combat this, for the 2023 filing season, the IRS has boosted its defenses by 40% with additional filters to detect potential identity theft tax returns and halt fraudulent refunds. If you happen to receive a 4883C or 6330C letter, the IRS has essentially put up a stop sign and asked you to verify your identity and tax return before they can proceed. 

As of March 2, 2023, the IRS reported identifying nearly 1.1 million tax returns potentially totaling around $6.3 billion in refunds for additional review due to these filters. In the same period, they also intercepted 12,617 fraudulent returns, preventing a loss of approximately $105.3 million. Now, there’s some news you don’t hear every day!

The IRS Backlog Status: Where’s my refund?

Contrary to popular belief, the IRS doesn’t operate on “snail mail” time. Most refunds are issued in under 21 calendar days. However, if you filed on paper and anticipate a refund, it could take a month or more to process your return. For real-time updates on your refund, use the ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool. 

But what if your refund status is akin to a magic eight ball giving you vague answers? If the IRS needs more information, you’ll get a letter by mail. However, be aware that they can’t provide specific refund dates if your return is still being processed or corrected.

Now, here’s a quirky situation. If you submitted a paper return more than six months ago and can’t find any trace of it on “Where’s My Refund?,” you might need to resubmit. But remember, only resubmit if you meet this exact scenario. A duplicate return will only confuse the IRS, and trust me, you don’t want that.

Amended Returns Process Times: Patience is More Than a Virtue

As of May 13, 2023, the IRS had 1.43 million unprocessed Forms 1040-X, also known as amended returns, sitting in its lap. And the agency is processing these returns in the order received. Therefore, you could be waiting more than 20 weeks to see your amended return processed. If you’re feeling an urge to send another copy of the same return – resist. Instead, use the “Where’s My Amended Return?” tool for tracking your refund status.

Payroll Returns and COVID: A Peek Behind the Curtain

Payroll returns make up another significant chunk of the IRS’s workload. As of May 18, 2023, they had 2.1 million unprocessed Forms 941 (Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return). To add to the pile, about 879,000 Forms 941-X (Adjusted Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund) were in the queue as of May 17, 2023. 

Some of these forms involve COVID-19 credits, like Employee Retention Credits, but regardless of the content, they’re all being worked on at just two sites (Cincinnati and Ogden) by staff specially trained to review COVID-19 credit returns. 

In Conclusion

So, there you have it. Yes, the IRS system might be as hard to fathom as a David Lynch film, but remember, you don’t have to navigate it alone. After all, it’s not just about waiting; it’s about understanding the process and moving forward strategically. And that’s where I come in. Here’s to filing taxes with a little less trepidation and a lot more knowledge. 

For a FREE consultation with an experienced tax attorney, call The Tax Defenders today at 312-345-5440.

See more

When should I expect my tax refund in 2023?

In the enigmatic world of IRS refund timings, the crystal ball speaks in cryptic tongues. Normally, the IRS issues refunds in less than 21 days for e-filed returns. However, the caveat for 2023 is the processing delay backlog. For paper returns, add another few weeks to this estimate. Yet, no tax oracle, myself included, can offer exact dates. Instead, your trusty ally ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool remains your best bet for real-time updates. So, in the eternal words of Tom Petty, “the waiting is the hardest part” – but remember, patience often brings fiscal rewards.

Why is my tax return taking so long in 2023?

Are you stuck in a time-loop awaiting your tax refund? You’re not alone! The IRS tax return processing delays in 2023 have turned the usual tax timeline topsy-turvy. It’s like a surprise party, but instead of fun, it’s filled with impatience and unexpected wait times.

Why the delay, you ask? Here’s the plot twist – an influx of unprocessed returns from 2021 and 2022, coupled with an increased review to combat identity theft, has morphed into a logistical labyrinth for the IRS. Paper returns are particularly hard-hit, given the added manual scrutiny needed.

Though it may feel like you’ve been teleported into a Kafkaesque bureaucracy, it’s crucial to remember – your return is not lost, just caught in the crossfire of an overwhelmed system. So, buckle up for the ride, my fellow taxpayers, and keep an eye on that ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool for updates.

Is the IRS delaying refunds in the calendar year 2023?

If your 2023 tax refund seems to be auditioning for the next installment of “The Never Ending Story,” you’re not hallucinating. Yes, my astute taxpayers, IRS refunds are indeed delayed this calendar year. Plot twist or more of a predictable sequel? It’s a bit of both.

This year, the IRS has been swamped with an impressive backlog of unprocessed tax returns, leaving many refunds suspended in a fiscal limbo. Add to that the intensified efforts to clamp down on identity theft, and we’re seeing refunds delayed more than a director’s cut of a superhero blockbuster.

However, rest assured, this isn’t an endless rerun. The IRS is striving to clear the backlog, process returns, and dispatch refunds. So while it might feel like you’re stuck in a tax-themed Groundhog Day, hang in there! The climax of your refund saga is just around the corner.

What are the IRS changes for 2023?

In the realm of taxes, the only thing constant is change. This rings especially true for 2023, where the IRS has reshuffled the tax deck quite a bit. Buckle up and let’s delve into this fiscal roller coaster.

The most glaring change is the delay in processing tax refunds. The plot thickens with an increased focus on identity theft prevention, using more filters than a social media influencer to scrutinize returns. Even your friendly neighborhood fraudster won’t slip past this vigilance.

Meanwhile, paper return aficionados are facing longer wait times for refunds. As appealing as the nostalgia of paper may be, the digital route is clearly the fast lane in 2023.

Lastly, IRS’s version of “spring cleaning” has led to a record number of unprocessed returns, making this year’s tax season feel like a suspense thriller. Expect plot twists, but remember, every good story has a resolution. And yours is coming.