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Kokua Line: How can I find out if the IRS received the tax return I mailed months ago?

Question: I mailed my federal income tax return on April 14 for the 2020 tax year and have checked the IRS website and can’t find if the IRS received my tax return. I know if you mail it takes longer, but you would think at least they have a record even though not processed? It has been 11 weeks and I am wondering if there is a phone number to call to see if they have my tax return or do I have to file again?

Answer: There is a phone number, but you have a slim chance of getting through as the Internal Revenue Service struggles with an unprecedented backlog of 35 million individual and business income tax returns. “The backlog includes about 16.8 million paper tax returns waiting to be processed; about 15.8 million returns suspended during processing that require further review; and about 2.7 million amended returns awaiting processing,” according to a report Wednesday to Congress by the National Taxpayer Advocate (taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/).

IRS staff were overwhelmed by a huge number of phone calls — 167 million during the 2021 filing season. Only 3 percent of callers reached live assistance on the “1040” line, the most frequently called IRS toll-free number, the report said.

The IRS says it is taking longer than usual to process mailed documents, including paper tax returns and all tax-return-related correspondence. “We are processing all mail in the order we received it. Do not file a second return or call the IRS,” the agency says on its website.

So what can you and others in the same boat do?

>> Check the IRS “Where’s My Refund” tool at irs.gov/refunds, no more than once a day. You’ll need your Social Security number or ITIN, your filing status and your exact refund amount. This tool is supposed to be able to track a return within 24 hours of it being e-filed, or 4 weeks after it was mailed, but is behind schedule in some cases — as you know.

>> Despite the IRS admonition, you can try to get through by phone, from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays through Fridays (except federal holidays) The toll-free number for individual taxpayers is 800-829-1040 and for businesses it’s 800-829-4933. For more information, see irs.gov/help/telephone-assistance.

>> Do not file a second return. In future tax years, consider e-filing, as processing is quicker.

Q: We want to camp overnight at Magic Island even though there’s no fireworks. Will that be OK?

A: No. Overnight stays will not be allowed at Ala Moana Regional Park, which includes Magic Island, during the Fourth of July weekend, Honolulu County’s Department of Parks and Recreation said in a news release Friday.

As you indicated, the fireworks show has been canceled for a second consecutive year, due to the pandemic. “With no permits being issued at AMRP, park facilities are on a first-come-first-served basis during regular open hours from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily,” the news release said.

Q: We just received an email to renew our University of Hawaii Wahine volleyball season tickets. What are the rules for spectator sports? Will masks be required? Will vaccination cards be verified for admission? What about capacity requirements? There are so many unanswered questions that I think even UH doesn’t know. Any information you can provide will greatly help our decision whether we renew or not. The deadline is July 12.

A: We don’t have much to add at this point. We asked UH, but spokesman Brent Suyama responded only that “we are planning for a full reopening, but it will depend on what the government guidelines are when the season starts. UH will adjust appropriately.”

Wahine indoor volleyball, a fall sport, was canceled for the 2020-21 season due to the pandemic. Athletes, coaches and fans all look forward to renewed competition in the 2021-22 season.

Mahalo

On a recent visit to Costco Hawaii Kai, I put my Costco card/credit card in my pocket rather than back in my purse after I entered the store. Unbeknownst to me, it fell out of my pocket and an honest person found it and turned it in. I got a call on my cellphone from Costco before I even knew it was missing, while I was still in the store. A big mahalo to the person who turned it in, and to Costco for calling me immediately! — Grateful shopper


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 kokualine@staradvertiser.com.


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