Posted by Elliot Kravitz, ATP

How to Track Your Refund With the IRS

How to Track Your Refund With the IRS

Almost everyone is eager to know when they will have their refunds from the IRS. Thanks to technology, you can track this online and know its status. 

The IRS' 'Where's My Refund' online tool.

For more than a decade, there is an IRS online tool with which taxpayers can track their refund status online. The tool is called, where is my refund? And is available 24 hours after filing your tax electronically. For people that sent their tax via mail, it might take up to four weeks.

Tracking your IRS refund

These are the information you need to ascertain the status of your refund online:

  • ITIN or Social Security Number

  • Your specific filing status – single, married filing separately or married filing jointly.

  • The exact amount of the anticipated refunds

On supplying these data, you will have any of the three response:

  • Return Received: Uncle Sam is already processing your return

  • Refund Approved: Uncle Sam has processed your return and is now preparing your refund. Once it is ready, the IRS will direct your refund to you through the channel specified – mail or direct depots.

  • Refund Sent: Your fund has been dispatched – either in your bank or via check in your mail.

How long it takes the IRS to issue a refund

Most refunds are typically ready within 21days. However, this is not a guarantee that you will have your check in the next three weeks.

For people that want to have their refunds electronically, your bank will need more time to post the refunds to your account. The time for the money to reflect in your account could be elongated due to weekends and holidays.

For people filing for Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) or Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), it also affects the refunds' timing. Anyone filing in this category will have to wait until the first week of March to have their refunds for direct deposit. This, as well, is a factor when they filed the return. 

Causes of Tax Refund Delays

While many people are eager to have their refunds in, and probably counting down the 21 days’ time frame the IRS gave, it could take more time for the IRS to finalize their refunds. This can be due to:

  • Errors in your tax return

  • Sending in an incomplete tax return

  • Possibility of fraud or identity theft 

  • You are claiming either the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit.

  • Sending in Form 8379 – an injured Spouse allocation. This could take Uncle Sam up to four months to process. 

  • Your tax return needs more review.

How to have Your tax Refunds on Time

Sadly, there is no spell to cast to make your refunds appear faster. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make the process hasty.

  • Electronically file your tax return. This will make your tax review process faster alongside the processing of your refund.

  • Request for your refund to come in via direct deposit. According to Uncle Sam, your refund will come in faster. 

Tracking amended tax returns

It is a whole new level of stress having to file an amended tax return. You can still monitor your status online using the “Where’s My Amended Return” tool if you are filing an amended return.

Should You call Uncle Sam?

Bear in mind that the IRS's online tools are mainly what you need to determine the status of your tax refund. There are, however, exceptions where you need to call the IRS. 

  • You filed electronically over 21 days ago or more than six weeks by paper mail. You, however, have no update on the situation and are eager to know what is happening.

  • You sent in an amended tax return over 16 weeks ago.

Taxpayers should know that calling the IRS will not make them hasten up on getting them their refunds. The IRS specifies that any of their online tracking tools will help you know when your refund will come in. Also, the IRS only updates its site overnight; hence checking many times in a day will not help.

Also, the IRS's phone service representative will only have a refund for you 21days after electronic filing and six weeks after paper filing. Have this in mind when calling.

Elliot Kravitz, ATP
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