Tax return 2021: when to expect refund to arrive
It's tax filing season once again. The deadline's 15 April 2021. Here's a timeline how to file for free online and when you can expect your tax rebate.
Tax filing season is upon us; the floodgates opened on 12 February and will close again on 15 April, as per usual. If you need an extension to this time, remember to request it via the IRS Free File request page before 15 April, or fill out the relevant form, found here.
When to expect a tax refund to arrive
You will usually receive your refund within three weeks of the date when the IRS receives your return, even faster if you choose to have it directly deposited into your checking or savings account.
Though there’s a notice on the IRS advice website that states that they’re having some staffing issues, so processing paper tax returns could take several weeks longer. Taxpayers and tax professionals are encouraged to file electronically.
When and how you file your tax return will also affect the timeline for the rebate, as well as the waht the refund will be sent to you. With the above caveat in mind, here are some possible timelines for when you can expect to see your money returned to you.
- Filing online, refund by direct deposit - 1-3 weeks
- Paper filing, refund by direct deposit - 3 weeks
- Filing online, refund check by mail - 6-8 weeks
- Paper filing, refund check by mail - 6-8 weeks
Here's Cnet's calculator for how much you might get in a rebate.
What is "IRS Free File?"
The IRS Free File Program provides two ways for taxpayers to prepare and file their federal income tax online for free:
Traditional IRS Free File provides free online tax preparation and filing options on IRS partner sites. IRS partners are online tax preparation companies that develop and deliver this service at no cost to qualifying taxpayers. Please note, only taxpayers whose Adjusted Gross Income (or AGI) is $72,000 or less qualify for any IRS Free File partner offers.
Free File Fillable Forms are electronic federal tax forms you can fill out and file online for free. If you choose this option, you should know how to prepare your own tax return. Please note, it is the only IRS Free File option available for taxpayers whose AGI is greater than $72,000.
How to track your tax rebate
The IRS has a handy 'Where's My Refund' online tool which is updated daily, usually overnight. To log in you'll need:
- Social security number or ITIN
- Your filing status
- Your exact refund amount
Note that this year is unusual for the IRS too, so they're warning of covid-19 mail processing delays specifically if you've filed a paper tax return or have had any paper tax return related correspondence. The IRS say that they are processing all mail in the order they received it.
You should expect delays if you mailed a paper return or had to respond to an IRS inquiry about your e-filed return. You should only call if it has been:
- 21 days or more since you e-filed
- "Where's My Refund" tells you to contact the IRS
Do not file a second tax return.
There's also a mobile app you can use to check your tax refund status called IRS2Go, which is useful if you want the information on your refund at your fingertips.
Required documentation to file your tax return
- A copy of last year's tax return in order to access your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
- Valid Social Security numbers for yourself, your spouse, and any dependent, if applicable
Proving your AGI: income and receipts
- Social Security benefits documentation
- Unemployment Compensation documentation
- All receipts pertaining to your small business, if applicable
- Income receipts from rental, real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporation, trusts
- W-2s, showing your annual wages from all of your employers
- Form 1099-INT, showing interest paid to you throughout the year
- Form 1099-G, showing any refund, credit or offset of state and local taxes
- Forms 1099-DIV and 1099-R, showing dividends and distributions from retirement and other plans paid to you during the year
Affordable Care Act (ACA) filers
- Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement. For more information see Affordable Care Act (ACA) Tax Provisions.
- Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit
- Verify your identity by using your 2019 AGI. If you created a 2019 personal identification number, that will work too. The personal identification number required that you create a five-digit PIN that could be any five numbers (except all zeros) that you choose which serves as your electronic signature.
- Can't find your AGI or PIN? If you do not have a copy of your 2019 tax return, you may use the IRS Get Transcript self-help tools to get a tax return transcript showing your AGI. You have two options:
- Online: Select the Tax Return Transcript and use only the “Adjusted Gross Income” line entry. Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools provides you with the information you need to make the request.
- By Mail: Please allow 5 to 10 days for delivery. Use only the “Adjusted Gross Income” line entry.
Valid email address required for contact
To get a notification from the Free File software company that your return was accepted by IRS, you need a valid email address, ensure to have this ready when starting.
Looking for information on how to file an Amended Tax Return?
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