Now that I'm not working for the IRS anymore, I guess I'm free to talk about what I did there! I worked in what you might call "the refund department". If your refund was late or different from what you expected, I would be the guy to call.
The IRS takes three weeks to process an electronically-filed return (sent through a computer), and it takes six weeks to process a paper return (sent through the mail). You can check the status of your return through the IRS website, the IRS mobile app, or the automated refund hotline. I have all this information memorized, because I probably had to say it six times a day.
IRS phone people aren't allowed to go into your account, until the processing timeframe has elapsed. That's because, 9 times out of 10, there's no information to see. It's a waste of time to verify someone's identity and go into their account, only to see absolutely nothing.
People will sometimes lie about when they filed their return, just to get the phone person to access the account. That doesn't work. If the phone person sees your return was received less than three weeks ago, they're not allowed to give out any information. Even if the information is something simple, like "we got your return 18 days ago, it's finished processing, and it goes out tomorrow." Nope! If that's the case, the phone person has to say, "we got your return 18 days ago, please wait three full weeks for processing."
I always felt bad for the people who mailed in returns, then called to make sure we got them. Sorry, but unless the six weeks have expired, the phone people aren't allowed to go into the account and check to see if a return was received. Like I said, 9 times out of 10, there's no information for the phone person to see. It could totally be the case that the IRS got the return and is processing it, but it still isn't reflected in the computer systems yet because it's only been five weeks.