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FINANCE

What to do if you are still waiting for your tax refund

Tax season has been going on for some time and millions have received their refunds. Here’s what to do if you are still waiting.

Update:
Tax season has been going on for some time and millions have received their refunds. Here’s what to do if you are still waiting.
Erin ScottREUTERS

Three in every four tax filers in the United States receive a refund each year. Filing as soon as possible is the best, and this late stage the only way, to make sure your return is processed. At the IRS, tax returns are processed on a first-come-first-served basis but with just days left to file it is crucial to file now.

Typically the IRS is able to distribute a tax refund within 21 days so long as the return is filed electronically. This means pretty much everyone who filed in this manner should have their refund.

If a refund has not yet been issued then it is likely that your filing was incomplete, had an error, or was missing information

Those who file with paper may have to wait up to six months to receive their refund.

How to check the status of your tax return

The IRS has a tool called ‘Where’s My Refund?’ which is accessible online. This allows taxpayers to check the status of their refund after providing their Social Security Number, the refund total, and their tax filing status. All of this information should be available on your return, which can be used as a reference. Information is available 24 hours after a filing has been submitted.

Should the IRS flag your return as having an error, the status on the ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool will change and ask that you correct them. However, this feature requires that you file a return electronically instead of on paper.

What are the different statuses on the ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool?

Once your return has been processed and your refund confirmed, the tool’s online portal will give you the following information:

  • The date on which your return was received by the IRS
  • Confirmation that your refund has been approved
  • Notification that the refund has been distributed and should be on its way to your account.

For those who have not seen any changes to their filing status and filed a paper return, the IRS offers a helpline which can be reached at 1-800- 829-4477.

Calling the IRS to check refund status

In some cases, you can call the IRS to check the status of your tax return.

Individual taxpayers can call the IRS at 800-829-1040 if:

  • It’s been 21 days or more since you e-filed your return
  • It’s been six weeks since you mailed a paper tax return
  • Where’s My Refund? tells you to contact the IRS

Calling outside of these conditions isn’t recommended because the IRS representatives won’t be able to provide additional information on your tax return status.