Federal tax refunds delayed 9 months for some Illinois taxpayers

ST. CHARLES, Ill. (WLS) -- Some Illinois taxpayers are still waiting for IRS refunds after nine months.

For most of 2020, the I-Team has received emails and calls from people frustrated that their federal refunds have not yet come.

"I'm afraid that you know maybe I'm not going to be able to pay the rent, maybe I'm not going to be able to put food on the table because $6,000 is a huge amount of money for a single mom," said Katie Hogan of St. Charles.

Hogan filed her taxes electronically on Feb. 5 and expected her refund of $6,500 in a few weeks. But she's now waited nearly 9 months and still nothing.

"It's really put me in a financial burden. Being a single mom, I rely on that every year as part of our income; it's part of my budget, and I haven't been able to get my daughter the dental exam she needs. We haven't had eye exams that we need, because I don't have that extra money to do that," she said.

Hogan said she's called the IRS numerous times. She started following up just after the pandemic began in March, when IRS production slowed down.

Hogan was told that the government was "still processing" her refund and she just recently received this letter saying the IRS needs two more months.

"They don't understand, you know, the situation that they're putting me in," Hogan said.

Denise Jackson filed her taxes in January and as we approach November, she's still owed $10,500.

"They gave me a PIN number, they asked me a bunch of questions only I can say about my family history so I can verify identity. Then they told me to check out four to eight weeks. Four to eight weeks came and gone and it's October, nothing," she said. "I'm behind on light bills stuff like that, like, it's hard."

Jackson said she's also called the IRS numerous times for updates and even went through an identity verification process.

So the I-Team contacted the IRS on their behalf. While they cannot comment on specific cases, the IRS told us that such delays are common this year. The IRS explained that they closed down from late March through late June due to the pandemic and are still struggling to catch up because they are still resource challenged.

They suggest people in Hogan and Jackson's situation contact their Local Tax Advocate through the IRS's website, to help guide them through any tax problems.

To avoid this next year, the IRS highly recommends adjusting your paycheck tax withholdings and payments for this year.

The IRS says there is still enough time to make a difference if you do it right now.

If you consult your HR department and cautiously decrease what you are paying in, you can keep more of your income now. This way if your 2020 refund is delayed, it will be a lower amount.

That, however, doesn't help people like Jackson and Hogan, who have been waiting months for their 2019 refunds.

"I just don't think it's acceptable to wait that long," said Hogan.

To contact the IRS visit their local advocate website, or call the IRS at 800-829-1040 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Click here to go to the IRS website explainer of how to change your tax withholdings

More information is available on the Taxpayer Advocate Service page on IRS.gov at "I don't have my refund."
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