How to check on your tax refund

Real Estate Tax Talk

Are you owed a refund on this year’s taxes by the IRS? Wondering when you’ll get it?

The IRS says it issues more than nine out of 10 refunds to taxpayers who e-file their returns in less than 21 days. It takes much longer for taxpayers who file their returns by snail mail to receive their refunds — three weeks or more. However, if your return requires additional review by the IRS, your refund could be delayed by some time.

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You can easily check on the status of your refund by using the IRS’s online “Where’s My Refund?” tool.

If you e-filed your return, you can starting checking on your refund 72 hours after filing (the IRS won’t have any information before this time). If you postal mailed your return, you’ll need to wait at least three weeks before checking on your refund’s status. You’ll need to provide your Social Security number, filing status, and refund amount shown on your filed return.

Unfortunately, the IRS says it has been experiencing service disruptions because many taxpayers are checking on their refund status several times a day. The IRS strongly urges taxpayers to only check on their refunds once a day. It says that its systems are only updated once a day, usually overnight, so there’s no point in checking multiple time per day.

To avoid system delays, the best time to check on your refund are evening and weekends. However, the IRS’s system is not available every Monday from midnight to 3 a.m. Eastern time.

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There’s no need to call the IRS about your refund unless “Where’s My Refund?” tells you to do so.

Information you can’t obtain from ‘Where’s My Refund?’

Unfortunately, neither the IRS or the “Where’s My Refund?” tool are omnipotent. It will not provide you with the following information:

Prior years’ refund information: The “Where’s My Refund?” tool only provides information for the latest tax year the IRS has on file for you, not any earlier year.

Amended tax return (Form 1040X) information: “Where’s My Refund?” does not track refunds that are claimed on amended tax returns. It may take the IRS eight to 12 weeks to process amended or corrected returns.

The IRS advises that if it’s been more than eight weeks since you filed your amended return and you haven’t received your refund, you should contact an IRS customer service representative by calling 800-829-1040. From outside the U.S., call 267-941-1000.

Business tax return information: The Where’sMyRefund tool may only be used to check on refunds for individual tax returns filed on IRS Forms 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ. It does not contain refund information for returns filed by businesses, estates, or other entities. If you need refund information on federal tax returns other than an individual income tax return, you need to call the IRS. You can call toll free 800-829-4933. From outside the U.S., call 267-941-1000.

How long will my refund information be available?

For U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns filed before July 1, your refund information will remain available on Where’s My Refund? until around the second or third week in December. For U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns filed on or after July 1, your refund information will remain available throughout the following year until you file a tax return for a more current tax year.

If your refund check was returned to the IRS as undeliverable by the U.S. Post Office, your refund information will remain available on Where’s My Refund? throughout the following year until you file tax return for a more current tax year.

Stephen Fishman is a tax expert, attorney and author who has published 18 books, including “Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Contractors, Freelancers and Consultants,” “Deduct It,” “Working as an Independent Contractor,” and “Working with Independent Contractors.” He welcomes your questions for this weekly column.

 


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