2013 Tax Refunds

Elizabeth Rosen
by Elizabeth Rosen, Contributor

 

Do you expect to get a Federal tax refund this year? There are several things that the IRS wants you, the taxpayer, to know about 2013 tax refunds.

What’s New?

According to their website, “The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.”

>> FREE: eFile your taxes

While most taxpayers who e-file their return can expect to receive their tax refund within 21 days, there are circumstances that may require additional processing time and/or further review of your tax return. Filing a return that is properly filled out and 100% accurate can help you avoid processing delays.

To check the status of your tax refund, you can use the IRS’s “Where’s My Refund?” online tool. The system was revamped last year and now includes a tracker which displays the progress of your tax return and refund.

Upon providing some personal information for security purposes, you will be able to see the progress of your refund through three main stages:

  1. Return Received
  2. Refund Approved
  3. Refund Sent

Additionally, taxpayers are now able to check the status of their tax return/refund much faster than before. You can begin checking on your Federal tax refund status within 24 hours after the IRS has received your e-filed return, or within 4 weeks after you mailed a paper return.

READ: The Pros and Cons of E-Filing Taxes

Tax Return / Tax Refund Processing Times

The IRS says that “most refunds will be issued in less than 21 days.” However, you should bear in mind that this timeframe applies to taxpayers who e-filed their return. Also note that this statement by the IRS is not a guarantee that you will receive your tax refund by the estimated date. It is possible that the processing of your tax return may face delays due to mistakes, misinformation, or high volume at the IRS or U.S. Post Office.

If you file a paper return and send it via the Post Office, the IRS will usually issue your tax refund within 8 weeks after receiving your return. If you file your tax return electronically (also called “e-file”), it will be processed quicker and you can likely expect to receive your tax refund within 3 weeks.

READ: Can Your Dog Fetch You a Tax Deduction?

Check the Status of Your Tax Refund

ONLINE — The IRS has an online tool appropriately called “Where’s My Refund?” This tool tracks down the status of your tax refund and provides simple alerts based on 3 basic steps of the tax return and refund process (Return Received, Refund Approved, and Refund Sent). If you file a paper tax return and send it to the IRS from the Post Office, the “Where’s My Refund?” tool will declare your status as “Return Received” within 4 weeks after you’ve mailed your return. The processing time is much faster if you file your return electronically, allowing you to check on the status of your Federal refunds within 24 hours after the IRS receives your tax return. In order to use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool, you should be prepared to enter your personal information — including Social Security Number (SSN), filing status, and tax refund amount (in exact whole dollars).

BY TELEPHONE — A second option you can use to check the status of your Federal tax refund is to call the IRS Refund Hotline (800-829-1954). Remember that you will need to provide your Social Security Number (SSN), filing status, and tax refund amount (in exact whole dollars).

READ: How to Call and Check Your Federal Tax Refund Status

SMARTPHONE APPLICATION — A third option for checking the status of your Federal refund is to download the IRS’s new application — called “IRS2GO” — on your Smartphone. If you are an Apple user, you can download IRS2GO from the Apple App Store; if you are an Android user, you can download IRS2GO on the Android Marketplace. The IRS2GO app is a way for you to communicate with the IRS and check the status of your refund using your mobile device. In order to access your personalized refund status information, you will need to provide your Social Security Number (SSN), filing status, and tax refund amount (in exact whole dollars).

Tax Refund Options

In general, you have three options when it comes to how you want to receive your Federal tax refund (i.e. in what form). You may choose between Direct Deposit, a paper check, or U.S. Savings Bonds.

You can also distribute your tax refund (via Direct Deposit) into up to 3 separate accounts — such as your checking account, savings account, and retirement account. Request to allocate your refund by using IRS Tax Form 8888 (Allocation of Refund).

Delayed Tax Refund

There are many things that can lead to a delayed tax refund. If you made a mistake or provided incorrect information, your income tax return may be the reason for the holdup. If there is any missing information or errors on your return, that will delay your refund. Also remember that paper tax returns mailed to the IRS and tax refunds requested as paper checks both generally take longer to process (than their corresponding electronic options).

READ: When Will I Get My State Tax Refund?