Liz Weston: Reader shares workaround that helped score a long-delayed IRS refund

oregonlive’s Logo

Dear Liz: Here’s another option for the person whose tax return got amended and who was still waiting for a refund. Contact your member of Congress or US senator. They have constituted service staff who might be able to produce the IRS. This worked for our family when we learned my late father was owed two refunds from a few years before his death. The abysmal IRS phone system kept hanging up on me.

My US senator happens to sit on an IRS oversight committee and his staff is the only reason we finally received the refund checks after 11 months of wrangling.

Answer: Thanks for sharing your experience. Constituent service staffs can be helpful in resolving serious problems with various government agencies, although many people currently expecting refunds will simply have to wait to get their money. That’s extremely unfortunate, since refunds are a financial lifeline for many struggling households.

As mentioned in the previous column, the IRS is still slogging through a massive backlog created by the pandemic and years of inadequate funding. Getting through on the phone remains difficult, so people’s first stop should be the IRS.gov website, which offers a number of self-help resources for routine tasks, including the “Where’s My Refund?” tool, the “Where’s My Amended Return?” status tracker and a wealth of articles, publications and calculators.

The next stop might be the Taxpayer Advocate Service, which allows taxpayers to file a request for assistance if a missing refund is causing financial difficulties. The service is also warning about significant delays in helping taxpayers because of the IRS backlog.

Dear Liz: I use a credit card for most of my shopping and pay the balance in full every month. The card was opened years ago as a business card, but the business has since been closed. My credit scores are high but my card isn’t listed on my credit reports. I believe that is because it’s a business card. Should this be of concern to me? My wife and I own our home outright and have no other debt.

Answer: Your scores should be fine as long as you have (and occasionally use) other credit cards that show up on your reports at the three major credit bureaus.

If you didn’t have other active credit accounts, eventually your credit reports would no longer generate credit scores. That could make it much more difficult and expensive to borrow money, rent an apartment, get a cellphone and, in most states, insure a home or a car.

Liz Weston, Certified Financial Planner, is a personal finance columnist for Nerd Wallet. Questions may be sent to her at 3940 Laurel Canyon, No. 238, Studio City, CA 91604, or by using the “Contact” form at asklizweston.com.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *