How To Track Your Federal Tax Refund If It Hasn’t Arrived Yet
If you just filed recently, you should know your federal tax refund check could take up to 120 days to arrive. Here’s what else we found.
If you see “IRS TREAS 310” on your bank statement, it could be your income tax refund.
Whether you’ve already filed your taxes or you’re planning to do so by the final due date — that’s Oct. 15 if you file a tax extension — you’ll need to know how to track your refund. Be aware that the IRS is still facing a backlog of unprocessed individual returns, 2020 returns with errors and amended returns that require corrections or special handling. And while refunds typically take around 21 days to process, the IRS says delays could be up to 120 days.
The tax agency is also juggling stimulus checks, child tax credit payment problems and refunds for tax overpayment on unemployment benefits. The money could give families some financial relief but an overdue tax refund could also be a big help. If you don’t file your 2020 tax return soon, you’ll likely owe late fees or more interest — and you could be missing out on your tax refund, stimulus checks or child tax credit payments, which you may only be eligible for with your 2020 tax return.
How Long It Takes The Irs To Process A Tax Refund
Typically, the IRS issues a refund within 21 days of accepting a tax return. If you file electronically, the IRS can take up to three days to accept your return. If you mail in your return, it can take three additional weeks . You should count another week into your time estimate if you request your refund as a check rather than a direct deposit. Check our 2020 tax refund schedule for more information or use the IRS2Go app to learn your status.
For 2020 tax returns, the IRS said it planned to issue more than 90% of refunds within 21 days of e-filing. Some refunds could take as little as 14 days. This, of course, was before the coronavirus pandemic hit and health directives closed offices, including at the IRS.
The closure did not significantly affect processing times for returns filed electronically. But as noted earlier, paper returns were simply not processed, creating a huge backlog. The IRS opened offices in June for core-mission services, including processing paper returns, but workers started on the backlog first. So if you are mailing in your return just now , you should expect a very long delay. The IRS is not even providing an estimate for how long.
For reference, tax season in 2021 began on February 12. So the earliest date taxpayers get a refund this year was February 26 for direct deposits and March 5 for paper checks.
Handling A Refund Delay Do Your Research And Respond Right Away
If the IRS is delaying your refund, youll need to understand why, and navigate the IRS to issue your refund as quickly as possible. This can be a daunting task because refund holds can feel like audits. But, be patient, and dont worry. If your tax return is correct, its just a matter of explaining everything to the IRS.
Best course: If you get a notice from the IRS about your refund hold, immediately investigate the cause. Heres where to start.
Recommended Reading: Do I Need W2 To File Taxes
Got More Tax Refund Questions We Have Answers
One way is to qualify for more tax deductions and tax credits. They can be huge money-savers if you know what they are, how they work and how to pursue them. Here’s a list of 20 popular ones to get you started.
But beware of big tax refunds. They’re a direct result of overpaying your taxes all year, and that often happens because you’re having too much tax withheld from your paychecks. Get that money in your hands now by adjusting your Form W-4 at work. Here’s how to do it.
Yes. Simply provide your direct deposit account information on your Form 1040 or 1040-SR when you file. If you file IRS Form 8888 with your tax return, you can even tell the IRS to split the money up and deposit it into as many as three different investment accounts. Here’s how to do it.
Yes. Simply provide your direct deposit account information on your Form 1040 or 1040-SR when you file. If you file IRS Form 8888 with your tax return, you can even tell the IRS to split the money up and deposit it into as many as three different investment accounts. Here’s how to do it. Note that you’ll need to have an IRA account first. Here’s how to do that, too.
If you’re behind on your taxes, the IRS will withhold what you owe from your federal tax refund. You’ll get a letter from the IRS explaining what it adjusted.
You can fix it by filing an amended tax return using IRS Form 1040X. Here’s how to do it.
How The Treasury Offset Program Works
Here’s how the Treasury Offset Program works:
If you owe more money than the payment you were going to receive, then BFS will send the entire amount to the other government agency. If you owe less, BFS will send the agency the amount you owed, and then send you the remaining balance.
Here’s an example: you were going to receive a $1,500 federal tax refund. But you are delinquent on a student loan and have $1,000 outstanding. BFS will deduct $1,000 from your tax refund and send it to the correct government agency. It will also send you a notice of its action, along with the remaining $500 that was due to you as a tax refund.
The Internal Revenue Service can help you understand more about tax refund offsets.
Recommended Reading: Are Tax Returns Delayed This Year
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.
How To Contact The Irs If You Haven’t Received Your Refund
- In most cases, you’ll get your tax refund within 21 days of e-filing, though it can take longer.
- Check the status of your return online, then call the IRS if there seems to be a problem.
- Be prepared to follow up, too, because the IRS isn’t necessarily keeping track of your case.
- See Personal Finance Insider’s picks for best tax software »
I am a money nerd. I love adding the finishing touches to my tax return and generating pages that neatly summarize my income for a year. Some years, that also comes with the good news that a tax refund is headed my way.
I wasn’t sure what to expect for 2018, the first filing year under the new rules of a major tax overhaul. My results were much better than expected, but my refund was months late. I had to hunt down the steps to follow if your refund doesn’t show up as planned.
In most cases, taxpayers can expect to get their refund within 21 days of filing. If it has been longer, follow these steps to track down your refund.
Also Check: How Much Taxes Do They Take Off Your Paycheck
What The Irs Says
IRS spokesman Richard C. Sanford told me, Certainly we can understand the frustration, but we are trying to let people know whats going on.
In an update released a few days ago, the IRS says it is up to date on returns processed before April of this year if there were no errors.
National Taxpayer Advocate reports the IRS backlog, as of June, was a record 35 million returns. As of this month, according to the IRS update, the agency is looking at 8 million unprocessed returns. Most of these had errors or require special attention because of various tax credits. Delays because of this can take up to four months.
One way the IRS is dealing with this is by sending unprocessed returns to IRS offices that dont have huge backlogs.
Other reasons for delays include missing information and the potential of identity theft.
The IRS advises that taxpayers keep checking its Wheres My Refund? web page. The IRS says you can review your account online, too.
COVID-19 has hit IRS staffers, who try to work maintaining social distancing. Other complications include staff shortages, changes in tax laws, stimulus checks and the child tax credit.
Were working hard to get through the backlog, the IRS says on its webpage. Please dont file a second return or contact the IRS about the status of your return.
It continues, If you filed electronically and received an acknowledgment, you do not need to take any further action other than promptly responding to any requests for information.
Tips For Maximizing Your Tax Savings
- A financial advisor can help you optimize your tax strategy for your goals. SmartAssets free financial advisor matching tool can pair you with up to three advisors in your area. Get started now.
- When youre filing your taxes, a tax filing service can make things easier. They can take a lot of the confusion out of the process for you and help you file a more accurate tax return. They can also help you find deductions or exemptions that you wouldnt have known about on your own. Popular software choices include TurboTax and H& R Block.
- If you find that youre regularly receiving large tax refunds, this may mean that youre paying too much in taxes in the first place. In that case, you may want to adjust the withholding amounts on your W-4 so you can keep more money throughout the course of the year. Big refunds are exciting, but why give the IRS a free loan?
Recommended Reading: How To Amend Your Taxes
Check Your Refund Status Online
Next, you’ll want to point your web browser to the IRS refund status tool. Click the link to “Check My Refund Status” at this page on the IRS website to access the tool.
You can also find your refund status using the free IRS2Go app, but the web page worked just fine for me and I didn’t have to download anything to make it work.
You’ll need to enter your Social Security number, select your filing status, and enter your refund amount from step 1 to get your result.
Eitc/actc Tax Refunds Delayed Until Late February
Thats why, starting in the 2017 tax season, Congress gave the IRS more tools to question refunds. Specifically, Congress:
- Moved up the deadline for employers to send Forms W-2, which show taxpayers wages and the income tax withholding they paid, and Forms 1099 reporting payments made to independent contractors. The deadline is Jan. 31.
- Delayed refunds containing the earned income credit and/or the additional child tax credit . The IRS cant release these refunds before Feb. 15, but the IRS is saying to expect your refund by the first week of March.
Both new rules mean that, for the first time, the IRS will have the information and the time it needs to question more returns before issuing refunds. However, questioning and delaying refunds isnt a new concept for the IRS. In fact, several IRS compliance programs take or hold refunds for millions of taxpayers each year. Here are some of the reasons why your tax refund may be delayed:
Also Check: How To Get My Tax Return Faster
Why Havent You Received Your Refund
The CRA may keep some or all of your refund if you:
- owe or are about to owe a balance
- have a garnishment order under the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act
- have certain other outstanding federal, provincial, or territorial government debts, such as student loans, employment insurance and social assistance benefit overpayments, immigration loans, and training allowance overpayments
- have any outstanding GST/HST returns from a sole proprietorship or partnership
- have a refund of $2 or less
When Are Taxes Due
For most years, the deadline to submit your tax return and pay your tax bill is April 15. But for your 2020 taxes, it was pushed back about a month to May 17, 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Theres currently no such plan in place for the 2021 tax year, for which youll file in early 2022.
Read Also: How To Pay Income Tax
Understanding Your Refund Status
As you track the status of your return, you’ll see some or all of the steps highlighted below. For more information about your status and for troubleshooting tips, see Understanding your refund status.
Want more information about refunds? See these resources:
Why Millions Of Americans Are Still Waiting To Get Their Tax Refunds And What You Can Do About It
INDIANAPOLIS Beverly Shelly of Indianapolis and Dena Aleksa of Carmel are among millions of American still waiting to get their 2020 tax refunds.
This year I filed on March 17, and Ive been checking for my refund online almost every day, Shelly told 13News. Its been three months already. Its kind of ridiculous.
Its been since the seventh of April about 10 weeks — for me, explained Aleksa. Itd just be great if people, lots of people, could get an answer about why their refunds are delayed.
Shelly is waiting on her tax return to make some home renovations. Aleksa wants to make reservations for a ski trip. Both are awaiting more than $2,000 from the IRS.
13News spoke with an IRS spokesman earlier this week to get answers about the delays and why so many taxpayers are waiting so long to get a refund.
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What Can You Do If Youve Filed Your Tax Return And Still Havent Received Your Tax Refund
First, contact the Department of Treasury directly:
Department of Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20220
Do not mail a letter to the IRS right now. Theyve stated multiple times they cannot process mail or inquiries. Start with the treasury itself.
The only way we will solve this problem is to let the government and our representatives know there is one. Senators are working to get more relief money into Americans pockets.
We cant let them run the next bill through the IRS or we may end up in the same situation were in now. Write the treasury. Write your senator. Lets see if we can get some answers.
I Received An Irs ‘math Error’ Notice What Is It
Millions of Americans have received confusing “math-error notices” from the IRS this year — letters saying they owe more taxes. Once they get the notice, they have a 60-day window to respond before it goes to the agency’s collection unit.
From the start of the year to August, the IRS sent more than 11 million of these notices. According to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, “Many math error notices are vague and do not adequately explain the urgency the situation demands.” Additionally, sometimes the notices “don’t even specify the exact error that was corrected, but rather provide a series of possible errors that may have been addressed by the IRS.”
The majority of the errors this year are related to stimulus payments, according to the Wall Street Journal. They could also be related to a tax adjustment for a variety of issues detected by the IRS during processing. They can result in tax due, or a change in the amount of the refund — either more or less. If you disagree with the amount, you can try contacting the IRS to review your account with a representative.
Read Also: How To Save Money On Taxes
Reason #1 Irs Taking Your Refund
When the IRS issues refunds, it mainly takes or reduces refunds when taxpayers have debts to pay. Here are the two most common situations:
You owe federal taxes, and you havent paid:
If the IRS took your refund to pay federal taxes you owe, youll know it a few weeks after you file your return. Youll get IRS notice CP49,Overpayment Applied to Taxes Owed. If you dont think you owed what the IRS says you owed, the only thing you can do is file an amended return to correct the tax or contest any extra tax the IRS charged you .
You owe other debts, and you havent paid:
The Treasury Offset Program allows the IRS to take or reduce your refund if you owe other types of debts, including non-tax debts, such as:
- Past-due child support
- State taxes
- Unemployment compensation repayments
The IRS cant answer questions or resolve disputes related to TOP debts. Taxpayers should call TOP at 304-3107 for answers.
Spouses who arent responsible can get their part of the refund
If you filed jointly with your spouse, and the IRS took your full refund for your spouses debts, you can get your portion of the refund. File an injured spouse claim using Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation.