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Tax Refund Status

Learn how to get a tax refund status after filing yearly taxes.

Tax refunds typically take longer to receive if forms were mailed in. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Tax refunds typically take longer to receive if forms were mailed in.

Taxpayers can track their tax refund status for their federal income tax on the IRS government Web site. The site allows taxpayers to get current and accurate information about the status of their refund whether or not they submitted an electronic return or a paper return by mail. The site offers information in Spanish and to visually impaired persons. For people without Internet access, they can call IRS TeleTax System at (800) 829-4477 or the IRS Refund Hotline at (800) 829-1954.

Taxpayers can also check their state income tax refund status. Each state provides a Web site for this purpose. Individuals should check state government or tax Web sites for the information needed to input or log on with. Tax payers will need to check the federal and state Web sites separately; states will not know the status of an individual's federal refund, and vice versa. Many state sites provide links to the IRS site where one can go to check the status of a federal refund.

Accessing the Web Site

To access IRS refund information, you will need a hard copy of your tax return. Before you can check the status of your refund, be sure to check that the IRS or state has received your electronic return. The receipt of your return will be electronically posted with your account.

Log in by inputting such information as Social Security number, filing status (married, single, etc.), mailing address and dollar amount of the refund you are owed. When using Web sites, be sure your browser meets the minimum requirements and configuration needed to to properly use the site. For safety's sake, close your browser after inputting sensitive data.

Taxpayers can also check the status of refunds for years previous to the current tax year. State and federal sites store information for several years. Follow instructions on the site for checking previous years.

When to Expect the Refund

For those who submitted federal income taxes electronically, they can begin checking the status of your refund 72 hours after the IRS has acknowledged receipt of the filing. If you submitted a paper return by postal mail, you can begin checking your refund status up to three or four weeks after mailing it in. After logging in and following instructions on the Web site, you will be given the mailing date or direct deposit date of your refund.

Taxpayers who select direct deposit will receive their refund much sooner than if they request a paper check. Direct deposit puts the refund directly into the account or accounts of the taxpayers choosing. You can even choose to have refunds deposited into different accounts but using the IRS's Form 8888. Direct deposit also eliminates a paper check that can get lost in the mail or stolen.

Reasons for a Delayed Refund

When you check the status of your refund online, the system will alert you if there are any problems with your refund. Your tax return could be delayed for several reasons. The most common reason is that the post office was not able to deliver your check to you due to a change of address. When you go online to check your tax refund status, the site will notify you that your refund check was returned to the IRS and will prompt you to change or update your address online. If after changing your address and you still have not received your refund after waiting 28 days, you can use the Web site to start a trace on your refund check.

Another problem may be inaccurate routing numbers and account numbers on direct deposit refunds. The refund may have been recorded as delivered, but your bank account has not recorded the transactions. This problem may require a phone call to the state or federal tax agency to resolve.

Beware of Scams

Beware of the many e-mail, pop-up message, and Internet scams out there. They look very legitimate, often imitating the government's logos and Web site design. These phishing scams—e-mails that fish for information—entice victims into revealing personal information such as Social Security numbers and bank account numbers for the purpose of identity theft. They can be personalized with your name and bank where you do business and ask you to update, validate or confirm your information. Never click on a link in a suspicious email or Web site. A legitimate government Web site will have a URL address ending in .gov.

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