It’s that time of the year. We’ve just finished sending in our tax returns and doing our happy refund dances.
We sit patiently for that crisp, green refund check – thinking of all the things we can do with it. A week becomes two, and then a month.
…Still no check in the mail. Where the heck is my refund check!
- 1 How long does it take to get a refund?
- 2 Things you can do if you haven’t received your refund
How long does it take to get a refund?
According to the IRS, most refunds are issued in less than 21 days. Paper returns will take longer. Refunds from amended returns take 16 weeks.
Some tax returns take longer to process than others for many reasons, including when a return:
- Includes errors
- Is incomplete
- Is affected by identity theft or fraud
- Includes a claim filed for an Earned Income Tax Credit or an Additional Child Tax Credit. See Q&A below.
- Includes a Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, which could take up to 14 weeks to process
- Needs further review in general
Things you can do if you haven’t received your refund
#1 check that your return was received by the IRS
You can use the IRS refund tracker to check the status: https://sa.www4.irs.gov/irfof/lang/en/irfofgetstatus.jsp
Be sure to have a copy of tax return with you.
#2 verify your identify
Sometimes the IRS needs to verify your identity before they can issue your refund. If so, you’ll receive a Letter 4883C which states:
We received your federal income tax return, but we need more information to verify your identity in order to process your tax return accurately.
If you receive this letter, call the toll-free IRS Identity Verification telephone number at 800-830-5084.
When you call, you must have:
- This letter
- A prior year tax return
- The tax return for the year the notice is for
- Any supporting documents for each year’s return, such as Forms W-2 or 1099, Schedules C or F, etc.
#3 check your bank account
If you included your direct deposit information, you won’t get a paper check. The refund will be deposited in your account.
#4 see if there was a refund offset
All or part of your refund may have been used (offset) to pay off past-due federal tax, state income tax, state unemployment compensation debts, child support, spousal support, or other federal nontax debts, such as student loans.
#5 check your address
Did you recently move? If so, your refund check may have been sent to your previous address.
#6 call the IRS phone number
For e-filed returns, the IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in the normal time frame: less than 21 days. However, it’s possible that some tax returns may require further review and could take longer.
IRS representatives can research the status of your return only if:
- It’s been more than 21 days since you received your e-file acceptance notification,
- It’s been more than 6 weeks since you mailed your paper return, or
- The Where’s My Refund? tool directs you to contact the IRS.
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time