IRS Refunds Are A No Show

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COLUMBIA - Thousands of people across the nation expected their tax refunds on February 6 but instead received error code: 1121.  The code means your taxes are "under review" because of an error with your tax forms. But something suspicious unites all of these 1121ERs, they all filed before January 31. Many people file early relying on their refund to make important payments in the following months. 

Denise Belcher from Fulton, Missouri is one of the code recipients. Belcher expected her tax refund on February 6 but when she didn't get a text from her bank about a direct deposit, she checked her online transcript again on "Where's My Refund." 

"I logged on and it said that I had a 1121 error and that I should take action," explained Belcher. 

So, action she took. 

"I called the IRS on February 7th and they told me there was a glitch in the system and that my refund would take one more week," said Belcher. 

But Belcher didn't have a week. Since the IRS website "Where's My Refund" initially reported Belcher's deposit date as February 6, she scheduled payments for her utilities, car, and her daughter's schooling  

"It makes me look bad when I have to call everyone and say you know, "hey, I know I said I was going to pay this amount this month but don't cash that check because it might bounce,"" said Belcher. 

With her reputation at stake and no updates from the IRS, Belcher did what many do when they don't know something; googled it. To her surprise, one of the first results for an "1121" search turned out to be a facebook group. At the time she joined, there were 400 members, now there's more than 1200.  

"I realized how many other people were going through this and I thought great, now we can all figure out what's going on. Everyone writes what IRS agents told them on the phone about the refunds so it felt like an explanation," said Belcher. 

The problem is, every agent seemed to say something different. Belcher's phone call to an agent on Feb. 7 said there was a glitch in the system but now, the IRS doesn't report any glitch. 

On February 12, almost a full week after Belcher's and so many other's expected their refund, the IRS released an official statement regarding error code 1121. The statement starts off with "The IRS is off to a strong start to the tax season." 

There is no mention of any error or delay on behalf of the IRS but they do recognize and advise recipients of code 1121. 

"The IRS is aware of this situation, and emphasizes that the small group of taxpayers who see this reference number should continue checking Where's My Refund for an update. If we need more information to process their return, we will contact them- usually by mail." 

So, what's an 1121er to do? Wait. Wait for Where's My Refund to update and reveal new information. Wait for the mailman to deliver any contact from the IRS, and in Belcher's case, it means waiting to pay the bills. 

The statement specifically states IRS agent's cannot help or advise any taxpayers who haven't waited the full 21 days for processing. It also says "Where's My Refund" is updated once a day so there's "no need to check more often."

In the mean time, more than 1200 early-filers need to figure out how to pay the bills and there is still no explanation as to why their refunds are delayed.

IRS Media Representative Michael Devine explained how tax refunds work when I spoke with him over the phone. According to Devine, although people filed before January 31, the IRS does not look at tax forms until that date. Devine also said he cannot address why taxpayers got multiple explanations about the code when they contacted the IRS. When asked what 1121ers should do in the meantime, Devine said "I can't offer a response. I really can't offer a suggestion."

It is still unclear why certain early-file taxpayers received a deposit date of February 6 and why they got error code 1121.