• Tax Refunds – How Long Should They Take?

    Are you expecting a tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service this year? If you file a complete and accurate paper tax return, your refund should be issued in about six to eight weeks from the date IRS receives your return. If you file your return electronically, your refund should be issued in about half the time it would take if you filed a paper return — even faster when you choose direct deposit.

    You can have a refund check mailed to you, or you may be able to have your refund electronically deposited directly into your bank account. Direct deposit into a bank account is more secure because there is no check to get lost. And it takes the U.S. Treasury less time than issuing a paper check. If you prepare a paper return, fill in the direct deposit information in the “Refund” section of the tax form, making sure that the routing and account numbers are accurate. Incorrect numbers can cause your refund to be misdirected or delayed. Direct deposit is also available if you electronically file your return.

    A few words of caution — some financial institutions do not allow a joint refund to be deposited into an individual account. Check with your bank or other financial institution to make sure your direct deposit will be accepted.

    You may not receive your refund as quickly as you expected. A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example, a name and Social Security number listed on the tax return may not match the IRS records. You may have failed to sign the return or to include a necessary attachment, such as Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. Or you may have made math errors that require extra time for the IRS to correct.

    To check the status of an expected refund, use “Where’s My Refund,” an interactive tool available on this Web site. Simple online instructions guide you through a process that checks the status of your refund after you provide identifying information from your tax return. Once the information is processed, results could be one of several responses, including:

    • Acknowledgement that a return was received and is in processing
    • The mailing date or direct deposit date of the refund, or
    • Notification that the refund has been returned to the IRS because it could not be delivered.

    New features on “Where’s My Refund” offer step-by-step instructions allowing taxpayers to trace their lost checks. Individuals now can change or correct their mailing address when their refund checks have been returned to the IRS as undeliverable. When you change your address online the IRS database is updated, and you will be given a date when your refund check should be resent.

    The refund trace can be started 28 days after the date the IRS says the refund check was mailed. Married taxpayers who file a joint return must also complete and mail or fax a copy of Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund. Both spouses must sign the form. Form 3911 is only required when the filing status on the return is married filing jointly.

    Another way to check on your refund is to call the IRS toll-free Refund Hotline at 1-800-829-1954. This service is available to individual and joint filers who want to check the status of their current year refund.

    If it has been at least four weeks since you filed your tax return, you can also check on the status of your refund by calling the toll-free IRS TeleTax System at 1-800-829-4477. When you call, you will need to provide the first Social Security number shown on the return, your filing status and the amount of the refund. If the IRS has processed your return, the system will tell you the date your refund will be sent. TeleTax refund information is updated each weekend. If you do not get a date for your refund, please wait until the next week before calling back.