JAx season is in full swing. With about a month to go before the deadline, millions of Americans have already filed their 2021 taxes — and, in many cases, are now eagerly awaiting their refunds from the IRS.
Generally speaking, sooner you deposit, the sooner you will receive your tax refund. The turnaround time is normally quite quick: the IRS issues the vast majority of refunds within 21 days. To date, the IRS has handed out about 38 million refunds this season, totaling $130 billion.
But it is a particularly delicate year. Because of record inflation, the demand for reimbursement is particularly high. As average refunds top $3,400, Americans are waiting for thousands of dollars to roll in. Meanwhile, the IRS is dealing with a large backlog of 2020 tax returns, and the agency says it is still processing millions largely due to missing or incorrect information. Some people are still waiting to receive refunds from last year.
In addition to that, long repayment periods could also hurt this tax season largely because of major tax changes of pandemic politics – in particular linked to the claim of the recovery rebate credit as well as the remaining part of the child tax credit. The agency says that if you claim these tax credits, it will likely take longer than 21 days (and likely 90-120 days) to receive your refund. Incorrect or incomplete information will only cause further delays.
All of this raises questions like, “Where’s my refund?” even more urgent.
How to track your tax refund
Once you have filed your return electronically or dropped it in the mailbox, you can register with the IRS for refund updates. Here’s how.
1. Check your tax refund status on the IRS website
On the IRS website, you can use its Where is my refund? tool to check the status of your refund on your smartphone, tablet or computer.
To see your update, you’ll need to click the “Check my refund status” button, then follow the instructions, entering your social security number, tax status, and exact refund amount. If you entered the information correctly, you should instantly see the status of your refund.
Note that it will only show the status of your refund if it has been at least 24 hours since you filed your return electronically or four weeks since you mailed your return.
Additionally, if you have created an IRS account, you can access additional tax information about yourself online by request your tax and account statements. Some swear it’s a hack to find out when you’ll get your tax refund – and your account statement Is include a log of any recent IRS action – but the the IRS says Where is my refund? tool is your best bet as it is updated daily.
2. Use the IRS2Go app for refund updates
If it’s more convenient than the website, you can also check your tax refund status using the IRS2Go app, which is available on the Amazon Appstore, Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
The IRS application has several uses beyond checking the status of your refund, but if that’s all you need to do, select the refund tab and enter your personal information. Just like the website, you will need to provide your social security number, filing status, and refund amount. Then click submit and you will see the status of your refund.
Again, you’ll want to make sure it’s been at least 24 hours since you filed your return electronically or four weeks since you mailed it in.
Speaking of these additional features, you can also use the IRS2Go app to pay your tax bill, view tax advice, and get directions for on-site tax assistance nearby.
3. Call the IRS directly
For general updates on your tax refund, it’s probably not a good idea to call the IRS. Its call center is extremely late, which means you might experience long wait times. And even if you end up succeeding, it can be a AI powered robot rather than a human being.
The IRS recommends calling only if you haven’t received your refund after 21 days from the e-filing date – or if one of the other tax refund status tools directs you to contact the IRS.
Chances are you’ll just have to call the IRS if something is wrong with your return, and in that case the IRS will likely contact you first.
How long your tax refund will (likely) take
If you filed your tax return electronically and did not claim any pandemic-related tax credits, you can expect to receive your refund within 21 days and can check your tax refund status within 24 hours using the IRS website or app.
However, if you posted your statement, settle down. It will take several weeks before you can verify your status. Similarly, for complicated, incorrect or incomplete returns – especially those claiming pandemic-related tax credits – it can take up to 120 days to receive a refund.
To start the process, deposit as soon as possible. And remember: Taxes are due April 18 for most people this year.
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