It’s easy to imagine that early bird tax filers are punctual in everything they do, maybe even embodying that Ben Franklin wisdom about bedtimes. While they may be the salt of the earth—generally making filing season just a little easier for tax pros—some may get a little impatient when it comes to their refund status. The good news is that the IRS “Where’s My Refund?” tool makes it easy for taxpayers to check their refund status, so you can get back to the mountain of returns sitting on your desk.
How do taxpayers use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool?
The IRS says taxpayers can access the “Where’s My Refund?” tool in two places: IRS.gov/Refunds and the IRS2Go Mobile App.
If on IRS.gov/Refunds, simply scroll down until you find the blue Check My Refund Status button, click it, and—according to the page—be ready to supply the following information:
- Social security number or ITIN
- Your filing status
- Your exact refund amount
The IRS2Go Mobile App is available for download on Amazon, Apple, and Google devices, and checking your refund status still requires the above information. That said, the app has additional features that will let taxpayers make payments, check IRS social media and newsletters, and generate security codes for other IRS accounts.
The agency says “Where’s My Refund?” will display that information after receiving the taxpayer’s return—though it’s available much faster for those who file electronically:
- E-filed returns display refund status within 24 hours
- Paper-filed returns display refund status within 4 weeks
As for what the tool actually displays, the IRS says users will see one of three possible statuses:
- Return Received
- Return Approved
- Return Sent
Regardless of what an individual refund status happens to be, the IRS stresses that calling to ask about a return or request transcript won’t make things go faster (something you can relate to, I’m sure). That said, there are some legitimate reasons that can cause a logjam in the refund process.
What causes refund delays?
In addition to paper-filed returns being slower to arrive and process, the IRS notes four things that can slow down the refund process:
- The return may include errors or be incomplete.
- The return could be affected by identity theft or fraud.
- The return includes a claim for the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit.
- The time between the IRS issuing the refund and the bank posting it to an account since many banks do not process payments on weekends or holidays.
If there’s a problem with a taxpayer’s return—from incorrect info to duplicate returns—the IRS will reach out to the taxpayer. And, lucky for your clients, paid tax return preparers can often diagnose problems based on error codes they see after e-filing. (For example, a duplicate return error could mean the client is the victim of identity theft.)