Q: We filed our federal income tax on Feb. 21 by mail. It’s been 14 weeks now and we still haven’t received our refund. How can we check on its status?

R.S.

Answer: We have heard from several readers having similar problems. You can only check the status of your refund by automated phone line or website, and you will just have to be patient. Many processing centers had to shut down because of the pandemic and have not been able to complete some tax returns that were mailed in rather than filed electronically.

“The IRS is not currently able to process individual paper tax returns,” according to a statement from the IRS that was updated last week. “If you already have filed via paper but it has not yet been processed, do not file a second tax return or write to the IRS to inquire about the status of your return or your Economic Impact Payment. Paper returns will be processed once processing centers are able to reopen.

This year, more than 90 percent of taxpayers have filed electronically.

“All Taxpayer Assistance Centers remain temporarily closed as are many volunteer tax preparation sites until further notice.”

To check on regular tax refund status by automated phone, people can call 800-829-1954 or go to www.irs.gov/refunds, but since you said you had mailed in your form, it likely has not been processed yet.

The IRS says that services such as live assistance on telephones, processing paper tax returns and responding to correspondence are “extremely limited or suspended until further notice.”

Q: Because I get my mail at a PO Box, I did not receive anything there from the 2020 Census. I do not have a mailbox at my house. Last week I found a plastic bag hanging on my front door. I opened it up and it had the 2020 Census forms in it. I filled out the form online and submitted it. Then I found another bag hanging on my front door, also from the 2020 Census. What should I do with it?

E.P.

Answer: If you have already filed a census form, you do not need to do it again. If the Census Bureau gets more than one submission from the same household, they have procedures to determine which is the most complete and use that one.

Q: I know the Macy’s at Hanes Mall closed permanently, even though the going out of business sale was still in progress and was interrupted due to COVID-19. What happened to the rest of the merchandise and store fixtures? Is there a way to shop for these items online?

N.T.

Answer: No. “All merchandise sales were concluded during the clearance sale before the store closed,” said a spokeswoman for Macy’s, Inc. “Therefore, there is not an in-store or online option available for merchandise or fixtures.”

Q: If I request an absentee ballot, am I required to vote absentee even if I find I am able to go the polls in person?

M.A.

Answer: No. “A voter may decline to vote their absentee by-mail ballot and vote in-person instead,” said Tim Tsujii, the head of the Forsyth County Board of Elections.

Email: AskSAM@wsjournal.com

Online: journalnow.com/asksam

Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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