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BOSTON (CBS) — With the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, Keith Wortzman would love to have his 2019 tax refund of several thousand dollars in the bank.

“Any refund helps. They actually say it’s not a refund, it’s money that you overpaid,” he told WBZ-TV.

But the Randolph man is still waiting. He’s spent the last 7 months on the phone and online trying to get his refund for the return he mailed back in February. The status on his IRS account says a refund date will be provided when available.

“It’s unacceptable,” Wortzman said.

According to the IRS, Keith has lots of company. The agency’s website states there were 7.1 million unprocessed individual tax returns as of November 24, 2020.

The pandemic has caused significant delays, particularly for returns filed on paper like Keith’s.

But he’s got something else working against him.

“They were missing a couple of sheets of paperwork relative to my health care,” he explained, noting that he sent the missing documents in September.

That could be part of the problem, according to the IRS website which states, “For refunds that cannot be issued in 2020 because the tax return is being corrected, reviewed, or awaiting correspondence from a taxpayer, the refund will be issued as a paper check in 2021.”

“Before you know it, we’ll be filing our 2020 tax returns,” Keith said.

We talked to an IRS spokesperson who told us the agency is asking for taxpayers’ patience as they try to work through the backlog. He also had advice for folks filing next year – file electronically to avoid delays next year and consider revising withholdings so you are not owed a refund in the first place.

The IRS will pay interest on late payments, but that interest is taxable, so you will have to claim it on next year’s tax return.

Breana Pitts is a traffic reporter on WBZ-TV weekday mornings