Still waiting for tax refund after months, is there any way to speed up the IRS?

My wife and I are both in our 70s and retired. We depend on our IRA distributions and Social Security to make ends meet. We mailed in our 2021 Form 1040 in February (requesting a direct deposit of our refund). Beginning in April, I started checking the IRS site entitled “Where’s My Refund” but it always shows no record of our return being received. Many of our neighbors, who are mostly elderly like us and need their refunds, are having the same problem. I have called the IRS many times since April 1st, but all I get are recordings telling me how they are so far behind in processing returns. I want to file an identical return electronically, but there are numerous IRS notices saying to not file more than one return. If we can’t reach the IRS by phone, or get an appointment because they are too busy, and we can’t file another return or hire an attorney (which would wipe out the refund we have coming), what do we do?

A. You should continue to wait.

Once a week, check the status of your return using the “Where’s My Refund” tool. Calling the IRS is almost certainly a waste of time, but once every month or two, you might give that a shot.

The problem is that the IRS still has millions of paper returns waiting to be reviewed and processed. Unfortunately, you are most likely behind the unprocessed 2020 returns that were filed last year. You may not get a refund for many months, maybe not even until next year.

In future years, you should definitely file electronically. Doing so will likely result in your refund being processed in days, not months.

Another option to consider in future years is to apply your refund to the following year’s tax bill. That way, you won’t be waiting for your refund to arrive. While you will not receive a refund check in the mail (or by direct deposit), you would owe less when you file your tax return the following year.