Dealing with the IRS or state tax agencies can be frustrating, especially when they owe you money. Thousands of people per year ask in these exact words, “Where the f### is my tax return?” Let’s take it one step at a time.
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This post is provided for general information only. Please confirm the details and circumstances of your unique situation with your tax accountant or other appropriate advisor before taking action.
Tax Return vs. Tax Refund
First, let’s get the terms right. It’s not just to be pedantic. It helps you know where to find the information you’re looking for.
- Tax return = all the forms you fill out and send to the IRS or your state
- Tax refund = the money you’re getting back from the IRS or your state
So unless your dog ate your tax return, you probably really meant to ask, “Where the f### is my tax refund?”
Tracking Your Tax Refund
If you file your tax return online, you’ll get an email telling you when the IRS accepts your tax return. The next morning, you can go on the IRS website to check the status of your tax return and refund.
Most refunds take about two weeks. Sometimes, your tax return may need more processing.
Refund Status Results Message
If you get the dreaded refund status results message saying your refund date will be posted when available, there’s not much you can do. The IRS will either approve your refund once it checks it or send you a notice saying it needs more information before it can process your refund.
The normal processing time is 4-6 weeks. The processing time during COVID-19 has been over a year on some issues.
If You Moved
If you moved since filing your tax return or used an address other than your current mailing address, contact the IRS or your state to change your address. You don’t want to miss a notice you need to answer to get your refund.
If Your Return Wasn’t Received
If you try to check on your refund and the system says your return wasn’t received, you’ll need to call the IRS. But wait at least a week for electronic returns and four weeks for mailed returns. It takes time for them to arrive and get updated in the system.
If You Really Need the Money
Unfortunately, there’s no way to speed up a tax refund. The IRS goes in the order they receive tax returns and any responses to notices they send.
If You Want to File a Complaint
If you want to file a complaint about how the IRS is operating, contact your Congressman or Senator. Their offices actually do step in when the IRS isn’t doing its job properly. For state taxes, contact your state representative or state senator.
Some local news stations also like to do stories about IRS problems. The IRS often won’t respond to the news like a local business would, but it can help create awareness for voters and elected officials.