Obamacare penalty payers ask, 'Where's my refund?'

jessica johnson
Jessica Johnson, who was subject to the Obamacare penalty, is still waiting for her tax refund.

Deana Ard wants her tax refund as soon as possible. She says she files her return in mid-January every year and receives her refund within two weeks.

This year, Ard said her refund is taking longer -- and she's blaming Obamacare.

Ard, who went without health insurance last year, doesn't mind having to pay a $160 Obamacare penalty as part of her 2014 tax return. But she says her $7,124 refund is on hold, and the IRS won't tell her why.

Ard is not alone. Scores of readers have written CNNMoney that they too were subject to the Obamacare penalty and that their refunds are taking longer than usual. Ard has rallied more than 1,000 people to a Facebook page devoted to those in a similar situation.

Share your story: Do you have to pay back part of your Obamacare subsidy?

The IRS says refunds are not being delayed. "More than 9 of 10 refunds are issued in less than 21 days," the agency said in a statement to CNNMoney. "Refunds are going out under our normal processes, and there are no systemic delays specifically related to [Affordable Care Act] issues."

The best way for filers to check their status of their check is to use the Where's My Refund? site, according to the IRS. Representatives can only do further research if it's been more than 21 days.

Related: Obamacare tax surprise looming

Though 21 days have yet to pass since the start of the tax filing season, some early filers are getting antsy because they usually receive their refunds more promptly. They are getting their transcripts through IRS.gov, which shows them codes associated with the processing of their return. Many are seeing TC 570, which indicates the refund is frozen while the return is being examined.

Up to 6 million Americans could be subject to the Obamacare penalty, according to Treasury Department estimates. But not every filer who has already paid the penalty is seeing their refund held up.

Related: IRS warns of tax refund delays

Ard and others interviewed said they know of people subject to the penalty who have received refunds. At the same time, they also know of many friends and family who are not subject to the penalty and who filed their returns later than they did and already have their checks.

Jessica Johnson is one of those caught in limbo with a TC 570 after paying a $281 penalty. The married mother of three, whose return was accepted on Jan. 20, is waiting for a $9,450 refund from the IRS to pay credit card bills and add to her savings. Last year, she said she got her refund in less than 10 days.

Johnson, who now has insurance under her husband's plan, has called the IRS nine times.

"I'm frustrated," said Johnson, who lives in Savannah, Ga. "I just want to know what's going on. It's ridiculous that I am being penalized again for being honest about not having healthcare."

Related: Millions to owe Obamacare tax penalty

For Daniel Flowers, an $8,153 refund means being able to keep the lights on and his car running. The Cincinnati, Ohio, resident was counting on having the funds in a week, which is how long it usually takes. He's called the IRS, but they say they can't tell him anything until after 21 days has passed.

Flowers, who works in a hotel and paid $190 for not having insurance, may not have that kind of time. He's gotten his landlord and others to give him some extensions, but the lights will go off next week.

"I need this refund. I worked hard for this," said Flowers, who takes care of his two young nieces. "I can't access my own money."

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