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Many Who Filed Federal Tax Returns On Time Or Early Still Don't Have Refunds -- What's The Holdup?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Sixty-five days and counting – if you filed your federal taxes on the delayed deadline of May 17, that is how long you have been waiting for your refund.

But many people who filed early are even still waiting. So what's the holdup?

CBS 2's Marie Saavedra went digging for answers Wednesday.

"I do taxes for a couple of other family members, so we all filed prior to the 15th of April," said Doug Brooks.

Brooks, of Edgebrook, didn't bother with this year's IRS extension – and he thought that might pay off with a faster refund. He was right - and wrong.

"One of the three of us received a refund within three days, and the other person and I are still waiting," he said.

Now, as we round out July, he's wondering why.

"That's what it says here – 'still being processed,'" Brooks said, "and it's just taking a long time."

It's the same situation for Nancy Davis in Valparaiso, Indiana.

"I go every day to the IRS website, and the message says, 'Your tax return is still being processed,'" she said.

Davis has never before had to wait for her money more than a few weeks.

"It said it could be 21 days," Davis said. "Well now, it's way past 21 days.

Brooks and Davis sent two of dozens of emails we've received from people wanting any word on their federal refund, and who can't get a human on the phone for an update. The IRS didn't return our call either.

"We have had a lot of people asking why," said Ray Heinen of the Independent Accountants Association of Illinois.

Heinen led us to a study from the National Taxpayer Advocate for an explanation. It found a backlog of over 35 million returns.

It's hard to make a dent in that number when the IRS has reduced staffing due to the pandemic. Add to that the rounds of stimulus payments, and the new child tax credit that all took precedence - needing to get done and mailed out first.

That has left tax preparers in the dark, just like the rest of us.

"We can't give them any kind of specific number because the IRS can't give us a number," Heinen said.

And all taxpayers like Brooks and Davis can do is way.

"Right now, it's limbo," Davis said. "I mean, who knows."

"I think there's an issue with the IRS, so please, IRS, fix it!" Brooks said.

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