How to Track Your Tax Refund

It’s only natural to want to know the status of your tax refund. Is it being worked on? When will your refund reach your checking account? When will your refund check arrive? Many people rely on a tax professional or tax software to get this information. But you can also go straight to the IRS!

How Long Does It Take to Get My Refund?

Before we talk about that, let’s talk about how long a refund typically takes. The IRS says that most refunds are received within 21 days for electronic tax filings. In some cases, it can take longer. If the IRS needs more information or flags your return to ensure that you are the valid taxpayer, this process can be delayed. In both of these cases, the IRS will send you a letter letting you know what else they need.

Mailed-in tax returns typically takes 6 to 8 weeks to process. Amended tax returns (ones that you change or correct) can take up to 16 weeks to process. For 2019 amendments, the IRS started to allow electronic filing of amendments, but it can still take up to 16 weeks even if filed electronically.

What Else Can Cause My Tax Return to Be Delayed?

The most common delay is for those that receive the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. Tax returns with these credits are put on hold until February 15th. The reason for this delay is concerns over fraud – not by you, but by criminals. Let’s say a criminal files a tax return before you and claims your children as dependents. Since the IRS holds the return, it gives you more time to try to file yours, realize someone else has claimed your children, and inform the IRS what has happened. This process helps the IRS ensure that the tax refund is going to the right person. If you claim either or both of these credits, the IRS may not update the status of your refund for several days after February 15th.

How to Check the Status of Your Tax Return

Knowing all this, you can check your refund status for current filings on IRS.gov. To get the status you will need your Social Security Number, your filing status, and the refund amount. You can also use IRS2Go, the official IRS mobile app, to check your refund.

If you’d prefer to use a phone, you can get automated tax refund information at this number: 1-800-829-4477. And the general line for IRS questions is 1-800-829-1040. Usually calling this line when your refund status indicates that it is processing will not get you any additional information. If you submit an amended return, you can get the status on the IRS website. Note that the IRS says it can take up to 3 weeks to show in the system.

Waiting for a tax refund can be frustrating, but I hope you can use this information to stay up to date and know when to expect your refund.


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