If you’re anxiously watching the mailbox wondering where your tax refund is, you’re certainly not alone. Many people are counting on their tax refund to help fund their most recent home improvement project or pay off debt that’s been lingering around for the last millennium. Okay, maybe that last one was a bit harsh, but you get the idea.
It might have been several days or weeks since you filed your federal and state taxes, and you’re wondering what’s the holdup. Here are a few things that can delay your tax refund, and how you can track it down.
How Long Should a Federal Tax Return Take?
According to the IRS website, the IRS issues more than 90 percent of refunds within 21 days starting in 2012. Federal refunds are now being issued “to more taxpayers in as few as 10 days this year” following technology improvements. They note that “taxpayers should keep in mind that many variables can affect the speed of a tax refund.”
What Are Common Reasons for a Delay?
If you haven’t received your refund in a timely manner from the IRS, there are a few things that can delay the process.
- Common errors. Oops, you didn’t write your Social Security or tax identification numbers correctly. Maybe your address was incorrect, or your bank routing number was incorrect and the refund didn’t go through.
- Refund reviews. Your tax refund is being reviewed to prevent fraudulent and erroneous refunds. Even legitimate tax returns are sometimes reviewed to ensure nobody is cheating the system.
- Technology adjustments. The IRS sometimes adjusts their systems during filing season, which can translate into short refund delays.
Other Variables That Cause Delays
According to Robert Todd, there are other variables that cause delays. For example, if you owe a state or federal debt, you can “certainly” expect that your tax refund will be delayed. Some of these debts include:
- Student loans through a federal agency not on course to be repaid.
- Owed child support where there has been an adjudication of how much you owe and you are in arrears not making timely payments.
How Can I Get Refunds Faster?
Great question. Using e-file with direct deposit is the fastest option for taxpayers . . . especially because you’ll receive your refund right into your bank account. Some taxpayers are required, however, to file paper tax returns so that they can submit required documentation. These paper returns take longer to process.
How To Check Your Federal Tax Return Status
You can check your federal tax return status through the “Where’s My Refund” tool on IRS.gov. In addition, there’s a smartphone app called “IRS2Go” that allows you to check the status.
Here’s what you’ll need to know in order to check the status of your refund:
- Your Social Security Number (or IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) shown on your tax return.
- Filing Status (Single, Married-Filing Joint Return, Married-Filing Separate Return, Head of Household, or Qualifying Widower).
- The exact whole dollar refund amount shown on your tax return. Providing the exact whole dollar amount is essential to receive a correct response.
What About State Tax Refunds?
Every state has different processing times and it is suggested that you search Google for your state’s department of revenue for more information.
However, state tax refund return times roughly match federal return times, and many of the laws are similar. Follow your state’s guidelines and you should receive your refund within a few weeks.
Have you filed your taxes yet? Received a refund? Leave a comment below with questions and comments.