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Anyone who sees that their return is "still processing" or who filed a paper return mid-March or later and can't see any information in the IRS system should sit tight and wait.

The "in process" returns were probably flagged by the computers for having one of the due-diligence credits (EIC, child, education, HoH status), for tripping one of the anti-fraud screens (note that this does not imply that there is anything fraudulent about the return, just that there was some combination of data points that commonly turns up on fraudulent returns) or there was a data mismatch between your return and the data the IRS already had on file from third party sources. All of these flags need to be reviewed by humans before the refund is cleared for payment. The IRS shut down in mid-March and is still not fully operational, so everything is backed up.

Paper returns have been stored in trailer trucks at the IRS processing centers. The IRS announced in mid-June that they had more than 11 million pieces of unopened mail to process and typically receive around 1 million new pieces of mail each week. Again, with the IRS processing centers not operating at 100% capacity due to the pandemic, it will take quite some time to work through the backlog.

It's possible, though highly unlikely, that the IRS phone agents may have information on the current status of operations at the processing centers. It's information that the professional organizations have been asking the IRS to provide so that we (the tax professionals) don't submit multiple requests for things like POA authorizations.

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