Unclaimed Federal Tax Refunds
If you are eligible for a federal tax refund and dont file a return, then your refund will go unclaimed. Even if you aren’t required to file a return, it might benefit you to file if:
Federal taxes were withheld from your pay
You qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit
You may not have filed a tax return because your wages were below the filing requirement. But you can still file a return within three years of the filing deadline to get your refund.
The Average Tax Refund Last Filing Season
The average tax return for the 2020 tax year was $2,827, a 13.24 percent increase from the previous year. Nearly 240.2 million returns were filed in 2021, amounting to $736.2 billion.
There have been 125.3 million refunds issued totaling $317.7 billion. Of the refunds, more than 102 million were direct-deposited.
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Checking The Status Of Your Tax Return
It is your responsibility to ensure your tax return is received on time, otherwise you could face stiff late filing penalties and interest if you owe a balance.
If you are sending your tax return by mail, you can check the status of your return on the CRAs website. To do so, visit the CRA My Account page and log in. If the status of your tax return is listed as not received, it means that the CRA has not officially received your tax return. You can check on a daily basis leading up to the tax deadline of April 30 to make sure your tax return is received.
Returns filed by mail can take up to six weeks to process.
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What To Do If You Still Havent Received Your 2019 Tax Refund
We know tax law can be tricky, but we want to start off with some words of comfort: lots of people are in line to receive delayed tax refunds this year. It might not be for the reasons you think, though.
- The stimulus payment and the extended tax filing deadline do not have any impact on the timing of refunds
- Your stimulus payment is an advance tax credit for the tax year 2020
- Your 2019 tax refund is for overpayment of taxes in 2019
The IRS began accepting 2019 tax returns on January 27, 2020. The first refunds in the nation were processed and issues within three weeks of acceptance.
Get Tax Credits Youre Entitled To
The delay shouldnt make much difference for some filers whose refunds are delayed every year, Holtzblatt says. Taxpayers who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit traditionally face a refund delay when filing early. Under the PATH Act from 2015, the IRS cannot issue refunds on returns claiming these credits until Feb. 15 in order to prevent identity fraud and fraudulent claims.
Even with the delayed start of tax season, the IRS says these claimants should receive refunds in early March, the same timeline as they would in a traditional filing season.
Yes, people who need the money wont be receiving it until perhaps late February or early March, Holtzblatt says. But for those people who probably need it the most, their income puts them in the range of the EITC in many cases, and their payments will get to them at about the same time as it normally would.
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How To Check Your Refund Status
You can to check on the status of your refund. However, IRS live phone assistance is extremely limited at this time. Wait times to speak with a representative can be long. But you can avoid the wait by using the automated phone system. Follow the message prompts when you call.
About Where’s My Refund
Use Where’s My Refund to check the status of individual income tax returns and amended individual income tax returns you’ve filed within the last year.
Be sure to use the same information used on your return: Social Security Number, Tax Year, and Refund Amount.
If you submitted your return electronically, please allow up to a week for your information to be entered into our system.
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Check Where’s My Refund
Whether you filed a paper or an e-filed return, if youre expecting a refund, the IRS offers the Wheres My Refund? site. Youll need your Social Security number, your filing status and the amount of the refund you are due to receive. If you filed a joint return, you can use either spouse’s Social Security number. The IRS advises you to wait three weeks before checking the status of mailed returns and 72 hours before following up on e-filed returns.
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When Did I Last File My Taxes
By Top Tax Staff | May 23, 2018 8:00:00 AM | Tax Tips and Help
The IRS expects most taxpayers to file their returns on time every year. When the tax season starts in January, you have close to four months to file and submit your returns well before the April 15 deadline.
However, when you failed to file your taxes for the last several years, you might wonder how much trouble you could possibly be in with the IRS and what it will take to remedy the situation. You can start by determining when you last filed your taxes and by manually filing late returns.
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Dont Wait To Get Started
First, start preparing now. As of Jan. 15, IRS Free File is open. If youre eligible, you can begin filing returns with Free File and your returns will be transmitted to the IRS on Feb. 12.
Getting started earlier puts you ahead of the game, Holtzblatt says.
If youre still waiting on your stimulus payment and unsure of your payment status, check the Get My Refund tracker, and continue to check your mail in the coming weeks. But if you verified your payment wasnt sent or you only received a partial payment, the preparation software you use can help you determine and claim the full stimulus payment youre eligible for.
Use A Tax Return To Validate Identity
Taxpayers using a tax filing software product for the first time may need their adjusted gross income amount from their prior years tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.
Those who need a copy of their tax return should check with their software provider or tax preparer first, as prior-year tax returns are available from the IRS for a fee.
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View Your Tax Return Online
If you paid a professional tax preparer to file your tax return, the easiest way to view this information online is to access an online account that the tax preparer set up for you. You may need to create an online account if you dont already have one, but your tax preparer can walk you through the steps. If this option is not available to you, theres another way to retrieve your tax information, by accessing the database of the IRS.
Netfiling Your Tax Return
- To avoid losing your tax return in the mail, consider Netfiling your tax return instead.
- When you NETFILE your tax return, you receive a confirmation number instantly from the CRA as proof that your tax return was received.
- Processing your tax return is a lot faster if you NETFILE you also receive your tax refund a lot sooner.
You can also use the CRAs My Account to double check that your return was transmitted OK.
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Discovering The Dates Of Your Last Tax Filings
If you have not saved your tax records from years past, chances are you might not remember when it was exactly that you last filed. Rather than take a wild guess and risk filing a double return, you need to know for sure when it was that you last submitted a tax return to the IRS.
The IRS makes this process relatively simple by allowing you to research and order your tax transcripts on IRS.gov. You will be shown transcripts from the last years that you filed. You can also order copies of them if you would like them for your personal records.
The IRS does not charge taxpayers for their prior years’ tax transcripts. The information you enter into the request form must match precisely the information recorded in the transcripts, however. If you enter the wrong address or wrong amount of earnings, the IRS could deny your request.
Once you request them, the transcripts will be mailed to your current address. You also could receive copies of them via email if applicable.
You should receive the copies of your last years’ tax filings within six to eight weeks if you choose to have them mailed to you. Your transcripts will provide you with information from your last returns like:
- how much income you claimed that year
- your tax filing status
- whether or not you were entitled to a refund
Youre A Victim Of Tax Fraud
One type of tax fraud involves someone using your personal information to file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund in your name. For the 2019 tax-filing season, the IRS identified more than 58,000 fraudulent refund claims, with close to 14,000 of them tied to identity theft. If you think youre a victim of tax-related identity theft, you can contact the IRS and the Federal Trade Commission to report it.
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You Amended Your Return
Amending a tax return can also create a delay. Though the IRS recently changed the rules to allow for electronic filing of certain years’ amended returns , if you’re trying to amend an older return, you have to mail it. In that situation, it can take up to three weeks for it to show up in the IRS system, and another 16 weeks to be processed, meaning you may be waiting several months for your refund.
If you owe certain kinds of debts, your tax refund may have been taken, or “offset,” by the IRS to pay them.
How To Check The Status Of Your Coronavirus Stimulus Check
If you’re trying to find out the status of your coronavirus stimulus payment, go to the IRS’s Get My Payment page. You can learn whether your payment has been issued, and if it’s coming by direct deposit or mailed check.
Learn more about the stimulus payments, including whether you qualify for one and what, if anything, you may have to do to get yours.
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Your Return Is Incomplete
Having an incomplete return can also trigger an IRS review, which could mean a longer wait for your refund. If you filed a paper return, for example, and forgot to enter in a key piece of information like your Social Security numberor you failed to sign your tax formsthe IRS won’t process your return until those items are checked off.
Go Online And Use The Wheres My Refund Irs Tool It Works
Although the IRS Wheres My Refund tool is available to check the progress of your return, it only applies to the tax return you filed for the mostcurrent tax year.
For example, lets say you file your 2013 tax return and soon after remember to file your late 2012 return. Although you filed your 2013 taxes before your 2012, 2013 is going to be the one that the IRS site shows the status for since it is the most recent tax year in their database for you.
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How Tax Refunds Work
As a U.S. resident, you must pay a portion of all your earnings to the federal government to meet your tax obligation. Your employer is responsible for collecting taxes from every paycheck and paying the IRS on your behalf.
How much you pay in federal withholding depends on your earnings and how you fill out IRS Form W-4, which goes to your employer and includes your filing status and number of dependents. The more dependents you claim, the more money you get to keep each pay period.
In addition, taxes for Social Security and Medicare are withheld from your check. These are called FICA taxes. In 2021, the FICA tax rate is the same as the past year at 7.65 percent, 6.2 percent for Social Security and 1.45 percent for Medicare.
There is a wage ceiling for Social Security taxes. For 2021, it is $142,800, more than last years limit of $137,700. Gross income above that threshold is exempt.
When its time to file your taxes, you tally all your earnings, deductions and any tax credits you might have to see what your true tax obligation is for the year. If you had too much money withheld from your pay, the IRS owes you a refund. If too little was deducted from your pay, you will owe the IRS the difference.
I Want To Get My 2020 Tax Refund Faster What Should I Change Next Year
If youre hoping to get next years tax refund sooner than this years, there are some steps you can take to help expedite the filing process and the waiting period after.
The first general piece of advice is to file your return as soon as the IRS allows it. This positions you at the front of the line for your refund and when people file early, they generally get their refunds quickly.
The steps below could help you improve your filing methods next year and help you get your return faster:
- Avoid filing on paper if you can Most paper returns are processed within six to eight weeks. When people file electronically, their returns are usually processed in roughly three weeks
- Opt for direct deposit The IRS can send you a check or deposit your refund amount into a bank account. If you want to cut down on the amount of time it takes to receive the refund, choose to be paid through direct deposit. You wont need to wait for a paper check in the mail
- Track your status right away If issues are going to arise with your return, youll know sooner rather than later this also makes it easy to see when youve waited longer than 21 days for a refund
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