By Suzanne Le Mignot

CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s the end of 2020, but some people still haven’t gotten their tax refunds from 2019. The delay is costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

The Internal Revenue Service says the pandemic is complicating things.

Edward Trzupek says he filed his 2019 tax return in January. The IRS website shows his return has been received.

“That’s what’s been going on now for the last 10 months,” he says.Twice a week I would go in there, check the website, and I would get the same response. ‘We have received your tax papers, and we’re in the process.'”

The Griffith, Indiana, native says he and his wife are owed a $1,016 refund from their joint return.

“We are retired. We’re on a fixed income. I am a veteran. I’m now working part time to supplement some of our cash flow,” Trzupek says.

Janice Hardison of Monee says she has been waiting since April for her $502.00 refund, after filing an amended return.

“After I had spoken with a live person at IRS, they told me allow up to 16 weeks for processing the amended return,” she said. “It’s the end of the year, and tax season is around the corner again and I deserve my money. I paid into it, and I believe that if I owed the IRS money, they’d be knocking on my door.”

An IRS spokesperson told CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot an amended return like Hardison’s can take longer to process. When it comes to waiting for a refund‚ Hardison and Trzupek aren’t alone.

As of Nov. 24, the IRS had more than 7 million unprocessed individual tax returns. You’ll get interest if you filed your return on time and you’re still waiting for your refund. Due to delays because of COVID-19, the IRS has paid out about $18.00 per person in tax refund interest to nearly 14 million individual taxpayers‚ totaling more than $250 million. You will have to pay taxes on that interest.

Anyone who is still waiting for a 2019 refund can call the IRS Tax Assistance Center. While they are taking calls to set up in person appointments, their goal is to fix your problem over the phone at 844-545-5640, so you don’t have to go in.

Anyone who has a problem and has been more than 21 days waiting for a refund, can call 800-829-1040. The hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The best time to call is early in the morning or late in the day.

Also From CBS Chicago: