Steps to take when your Income Tax Refund stuck

Unfortunately in our country, many honest tax-payers have pending income tax refunds. Whether it’s the Income Tax (I-T) department’s lethargy or the growing number of tax payers, delayed Income Tax refunds remain high on the list of complaints against the department. One of the challenges for any tax payer is getting a refund, because it is a lengthy and time-consuming process.

Ideally, once you file your Income Tax returns, the I-T department has to verify the information and any excess tax paid is supposed to be automatically processed and refunded. A cheque is supposed to be sent to the assessee’s address in four months. The amount can also be credited to his bank account (through electronic clearing system or ECS), if he has chosen the option.

Income Tax Refund Stuck

The problem arises when the four-month period – as prescribed by the Central Board of Direct Taxes – stretches to, well, years.  The technical problems relating to our systems actually cause the delays. At times, wrong computation of tax or even an incorrect address can lead to delays.

Since high technology fails to live up to the promise of speedy refunds, you must resort to the good, old letter-writing art, and hope the postal route (a registered post) can make up for the technical snag.

But before you pick up the pen, you can go to the tax department, or NSDL-TIN (National Securities Depository Limited-Tax Information Network) websites. Alternatively, you could use the help desk of State Bank of India.

Here are a few things to do:

  • Any defective Income Tax Return  filing from your/I-T’s side has to be solved by a rectification letter. If the issue is cleared, you will get your pending refund.
  • If there are no defects, you need to write a letter, along with copies of returns, to your Assessing Officer (AO), informing him.
  • No response in 10 days? Write another one. This time, to the Additional Commissioner of Income Tax (A-CIT). Attach a copy of the earlier letter to the AO.
  • Write another letter to the Grievance Department, with copies of letters to both AO and A-CIT.
  • Sometimes, a visit to the officers concerned may help sort matters earlier.

Cases are normally sorted within a month. If not, approach the nearest I-T Ombudsman’s office. The Ombudsman will write a letter directly to the I-T Commissioner, seeking details of your case.

This measure works most of the time, with results within a month or three at the most. The Ombudsman has had a record of solving about 75-80 per cent of issues till date, says an officer from there in Mumbai.

Common Reasons for delay in Income tax Refund

1) Mismatch in TDS data –  If the TDS details in your form do not match the data with the Income Tax Department, expect your refund to be put on the backburner. Verify the TDS details online before submitting the form.

2) Wrong address –  Though direct credit of refunds has removed this problem to a large extent, there are still some taxpayers who give wrong addresses and then wait for refunds.

3) Missing bank account details –  You are supposed to give your bank account number and its MICR code for direct credit of refunds. If there is an error, your refund gets stuck.

4) Late submission of ITR V –  The return is not filed until the ITR V reaches the CPC in Bangalore. Don’t expect any refund if the ITR V has not been filed.

5) Large number of TDS entries  – If there are lots of TDS entries (some taxpayers can have up to 70-80 entries), your assessment may take a little longer. Obviously, the refund also gets delayed.

(Article Was last Published on 29.03.2012 and Republished on 04.07.2012 with Amendment)

(Republished With Amendments)

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27 responses to “Income Tax Refund stuck – Steps to take & Reasons for Delay”


    Have got resolved similar IT Refund issues smoothly. For income tax related matters , pl do touchbase to my id with details.

  2. chanchal rani says:

    many of my clients income tax refunds of previous years are pending. whatcan i do for this?

    • Bhupinder Singh (TRP) says:

      File your Income Tax Refund Related Complaints on (CPGRAMS). CPGRAMS is a only portal to Interact with Tax Authorities and Your Problem will be resolved in days.

  3. Swapnil kadam says:

    Hi team,
    My TDS of year 2012 & 13 is pending in our Swargate office at 11(4) of 7984₹.Pan CEIPK1679H
    They are giving different excuses every time. I almost visited there more than 12 times.
    No body is helping me and talking initiative from their side.
    As per demand i have submitted all documents again which are cancel cheque, hard written letter,
    Form 16 and acknowledgement copy of ITR V.
    Please look into issue n help me to get my TDS back.

    Your”s faithfully,

  4. DEEPAK BANSAL says:




  5. Anand says:

    Hello there! I have 2 refunds yet to be received for the Assessment year 2005-2006 and 2010-2011. I have tried going back again and again to get the refund but in vane. Is there an easy way of getting it back?



    no reply is sent for my email dated 24th sep 2014 pl expedite reply and get me the refund

    bhavani radhakrishna
    sbi a/c 10235497432 ifsc code sbin 0007981

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