Tax time is over, but tax questions continue. Two of the most common questions taxpayers ask after they’ve filed their tax returns relate to their refunds and their records.

Where is my refund?

If you were entitled to a refund, you’d probably like to know when it will be paid. If you electronically filed your return, you can find out when you are supposed to get your refund by checking the 2011 Internal Revenue Service e-file Refund Cycle Chart. This chart shows the dates refunds are supposed to be paid by the IRS.

For example, if you e-filed your return between April 14 and April 21, you’re supposed to get paid your refund by May 6, 2011. If you e-filed before April 14, you should have been paid your refund already.

If you filed a paper return, your refund will take much longer to process — at least three or four weeks.

Tax time is over, but tax questions continue. Two of the most common questions taxpayers ask after they’ve filed their tax returns relate to their refunds and their records.

Where is my refund?

If you were entitled to a refund, you’d probably like to know when it will be paid. If you electronically filed your return, you can find out when you are supposed to get your refund by checking the 2011 Internal Revenue Service e-file Refund Cycle Chart. This chart shows the dates refunds are supposed to be paid by the IRS.

For example, if you e-filed your return between April 14 and April 21, you’re supposed to get paid your refund by May 6, 2011. If you e-filed before April 14, you should have been paid your refund already.

If you filed a paper return, your refund will take much longer to process — at least three or four weeks.

You can go online to check the status of your 2010 refund 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or three to four weeks after you mailed a paper return. Be sure to have a copy of your 2010 tax return available because you will need to know your filing status, the first Social Security number shown on the return, and the exact whole-dollar amount of the refund. You have three options for checking on your refund:

  • Visit the "Where’s My Refund?" resource at IRS.gov.
  • Call 800-829-4477 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for automated refund information
  • Call 800-829-1954 during the hours shown in your tax form instructions
  • Use the IRS2Go mobile apps. If you have an Apple iPhone or iTouch or an Android device you can download an application to check the status of your refund.
  • If you moved after you filed your return, make sure the IRS has your new address. Otherwise, your check might not get to you. You can do this by filing IRS Form 8822: Change of Address. If you are expecting a paper refund check, you should also file a change of address with the U.S. Postal Service.

What records should I keep?

Your tax records consist of copies of the tax returns you filed, any worksheets or other working papers used to complete your returns, and the documents — such as receipts — you have that support your tax return.

You need to have copies of your tax returns and supporting documents available in case you are audited by the IRS or another taxing agency. You might also need them for other purposes — for example, to get a loan, mortgage or insurance. They may be helpful in amending already filed returns or preparing future returns.

You should keep your records for as long as the IRS has to audit you after you file your returns for the year. These statutes of limitation range from three years to forever, and are listed in the table below.

To be on the safe side, you should keep your tax returns indefinitely. They usually don’t take up much space — or no space at all if they are electronic — so this is not a big hardship. Your supporting documents probably take up more space.

You should keep these for at least six years after you file your return. Keeping your records this long ensures that you’ll have them available if the IRS decides to audit you.

IRS statutes of limitations

Action: The limitations period is:
You failed to pay all the tax due 3 years
You underreported your gross income for the year by more than 25% 6 years
You filed a fraudulent return No limit
You did not file a return No limit
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