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Kokua Line: U.S. tax returns filed by July 15 to earn interest on refund due, IRS says

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Question: I am one of those who mailed in my taxes right before the pandemic hit and never heard back from the IRS. Have they started processing paper returns yet? Should I refile, because who knows if they ever received it? Will they pay interest on the refund they owe me?

Answer: Yes, the Internal Revenue Service has resumed processing paper returns on a limited basis. No, you should not file a second return. Yes, you are due interest on your refund.

Here is more information from the IRS, in answer to common Kokua Line questions:

>> The federal filing deadline for personal income tax returns is July 15, extended from the usual April 15 deadline. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week that he “may consider” a second extension, but as of deadline Monday none was announced. The deadline for filing Hawaii income tax returns is July 20, postponed from April 20.

>> Anyone who has not already filed their federal income tax returns should file electronically, not on paper. Track the status of an electronic filing on using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool.

>> Processing of paper returns is way behind. “We’re experiencing delays in processing paper tax returns due to limited staffing. If you already filed a paper return, we will process it in the order we received it. Do not file a second tax return or contact the IRS about the status of your return,” the IRS said in a status update.

>> Some readers who filed on paper months ago and have heard nothing from the IRS worry that their return was lost and that they could be penalized for failing to file or filing late, if the extended deadline of July 15 passes without their return being processed. We couldn’t get an unequivocal answer about this from the IRS, but taxpayer penalties seem unlikely given the circumstances. The IRS has confirmed that millions of paper returns were received but not processed, and it says taxpayers who mailed a paper return should not file a second return electronically or on paper. The postmark on a paper return will confirm when it was mailed.

>> As we’ve said, the IRS encourages all taxpayers to file electronically. People who insist on filing on paper should mail their return by certified mail or some other service that confirms receipt.

>> The IRS must pay interest on a refund if it fails to issue the refund within 45 days of accepting the income tax return. Generally, filings are processed within 21 days of receipt. This year has been different, especially for paper returns, which sat unprocessed as IRS offices were closed for nearly three months during the pandemic. The IRS has adjusted interest payments to reflect the extended filing deadline. It said last week that interest on refunds for 2019 individual returns filed by July 15 generally will be paid from April 15 until the date the refund is issued. This means that anyone due a refund who files by July 15 will receive interest, even if takes less than 45 days to process the return. People who filed before the original deadline and whose refunds were or are overdue also will receive interest.

Ala Moana Satellite City Hall

The satellite city hall at Ala Moana Center will reopen Wednesday after all, by appointment only. The city initially announced that it would not reopen until after relocating within the mall. However, that relocation has been delayed, so the current location will reopen along with the other eight satellite city hall locations on Oahu, the city said. All are reopening by appointment only; no walk-ins. Face masks and physical distancing are required. To make an appointment, go to or call 768-4177.

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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