How to Check the Status of Your Tax Refund

So – you’ve gone through the effort of calculating and filing your tax return, or maybe you went to a tax preparer (just hopefully not the one with the clown in a statue suit!) and your return has been filed.  You see that you’re going to be getting a sizeable refund this year – in spite of your careful planning – and you’re anxious to get your hands on it!  How can you check on it to see what’s going on with it??

Go Online (where else?)

First of all, you can go to the IRS’ website at www.IRS.gov and access the interactive tool called Where’s My Refund (also available in Spanish as ¿Dónde Está Mi Reembolso?), which will give you quick, accurate information about your refund.

After you’ve eFiled (or had the return eFiled for you) you can get information about the refund 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your return.  If you file a paper return (because you’re taking advantage of the New Homebuyer’s Credit, no doubt), the refund information will not be available online for three to four weeks after you’ve mailed the return.

In order to check on the status of your refund, you’ll need to have a few items with you (so don’t try this on the train):

  • Your Social Security number or ITIN
  • Your filing status (Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household, or Qualifying Widow(er))
  • The EXACT whole dollar refund amount shown on your return

Once you’ve plugged all that into the system, you might get several responses.  For example, the system may simply tell you that your return has been received and is being processed.  Or, you could receive the mailing date or direct deposit date of your refund.  Or, if you’re really unlucky (or if you have enemies in the Post Office), you may find that the IRS could not deliver your refund due to an incorrect address.  In that case, you may be able to correct or change your address online.

If there happens to be an issue with your particular situation, the online system might give you some options to work with to resolve those situations.  An example would be if you have not received your refund within 28 days from the original mailing date (per IRS records), you can initiate a refund trace using the system.

If you don’t happen to have internet access, or those dadgum tv-typewriter things scare you, you can always call the IRS refund hotline at 800-829-1954.   You’ll have to have the same information listed above (Social Security number, filing status, and exact whole dollar refund amount) to use the phone system as well.

A little insiders’ tip:  refund checks are normally mailed on Fridays.  If you check the status of your refund and don’t find a mailing date, it won’t do any good to check again until after the following Friday.

About the author

Jim Blankenship, CFP®, EA

Jim Blankenship is the founder and principal of Blankenship Financial Planning, Ltd., a financial planning firm providing hourly, as-needed financial planning and advice. A financial services professional for over 25 years, Jim is a CFP professional and has earned the Enrolled Agent designation, a designation that qualifies him as enrolled to practice before the IRS. Jim is also a NAPFA-registered financial advisor, which designates him as a Fee-Only Financial Advisor.

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