Where's My Refund? Help

Elizabeth Rosen
by Elizabeth Rosen, Contributor

A tax refund is issued when the amount of income tax that you paid is more than what you actually owed for that year. Like many taxpayers, after you file your tax return you may find yourself asking one very important question: Where’s my refund? Rather than sit back and hope that your refund is on its way, there are things you can do to find out where it is.

The IRS has an electronic system in place called “Where’s My Refund?”, an online tool that can help you determine the status of your tax refund without having to deal with anybody on the phone. The Where’s My Refund? system also helps the IRS to reduce the number of phone calls they receive from confused taxpayers looking for their refunds. If you filed electronically, you will receive information about your refund within 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed tax return. If you file by paper mail, it will take the IRS longer to process your tax return and you will not able to use the Where’s My Refund? system for at least 3 weeks. This is another reason why e-filing has become so common among taxpayers.

To use the Where’s My Refund? tool, you will need several key pieces of information from your personal income tax return ― this includes your filing status, Social Security Number, and the exact dollar amount of your tax refund. Without this information, you cannot use the Where’s My Refund? system, and you will probably have to wait and hope that your refund arrives soon enough. If your tax refund was returned to the IRS by the Post Office, you may be able to change your address using the Where’s My Refund? system.

It is very important to make sure that the IRS has your correct address on file, or the arrival of your refund will be delayed. For taxpayers whose refunds were lost or stolen, they are not out of luck either. The IRS allows you to request a replacement check within 28 days after your original refund was mailed out. However, don’t jump the gun and assume that your check disappeared just because a few weeks have elapsed. Keep in mind that many others are trying to find out where their refunds are as well, and the Post Office can get extremely busy during tax season.

Things That Can Delay Your Tax Refund

Receiving a tax refund is a great joy for many people, but this anticipated excitement can turn sour if your refund is delayed. There are many factors that can contribute to a delayed tax refund. Rather than wasting time and blindly asking “where’s my refund?” you should consider the potential reasons for the holdup. Many taxpayers pondering the “where’s my refund” question do not realize that their tax return may be the problem. It there are any errors on your return, that will hinder your refund. Additionally, returns that are filed by paper and refunds that are requested by check generally take longer to process. Listed below are some of the most common reasons why your tax refund may be late.

You filed a paper tax return.

There are many people who mail in their tax returns instead of filing electronically. While it won’t affect the amount of your refund, it will affect how long it takes the IRS to process your return. If you went to the Post Office to submit your tax return, you will likely have to wait 4 to 6 weeks before being able to ask “where’s my refund?” On the other hand, taxpayers who file electronically and choose the Direct Deposit option may receive their refunds in as little as 7 to 10 business days. As a result, most people who e-file their taxes are able to avoid frustration over the “where’s my refund” question.

There is misinformation on your tax return.

If you’re wondering where your refund is, double-check to see if you omitted important information or make a mistake on your return.  Any errors on your tax return will cause it to be processed slower ― or you may have to submit an amended return, delaying your refund even longer. Make sure that your personal information is correct and your calculations add up before submitting your return. Otherwise, you may have to contact the IRS to straighten it out.

There are mathematical errors on your tax return.

Computation errors related to estimated tax payments, taxable income, or withholding can delay processing and leave you wondering “where’s my refund?” It is important to make certain that your tax return is 100% accurate and true. Every year, thousands of people make math mistakes on their returns, which makes it more difficult for the IRS to process their refunds.

You mailed your tax return to the wrong address.

If you are mailing in your tax return, it is essential that you send it to the proper address or you may find yourself asking, “where’s my refund?” Remember that the IRS is a huge organization with multiple mailing addresses (depending on the type of form and the type of entity filing). Also note that your state tax return must be sent to your state’s revenue department, not the IRS. There are many factors that can delay a tax refund. To avoid aggravation over the “where’s my refund” question, double-check your return for errors and consider filing electronically for faster processing. Additionally, the IRS has an online system (appropriately named Where’s My Refund?) that can help you determine the status of your refund and when you can expect to receive it.

 

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