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How Do I Check My Federal Tax Return Status?

How Do I Check My Federal Tax Return Status?

Find out how to check your refund, how long you can expect to wait, and what could have caused the delay

The best way to check your return’s status is to use the Where’s My Refund tool on the IRS website.

Don’t call the IRS unless Where’s My Refund tells you to. Calling the IRS unnecessarily will just bog them down and make things slower for everyone, you included.

The IRS updates statuses on Where’s My Refund every 24 hours – usually at night – so you only need to check once a day. Checking more often is not only unnecessary but could cause the entire system to crash, preventing you from being able to check your status at all.

Before you check your status you should wait 24-72 hours after e-filing or 3-4 weeks after mailing a paper return to give the IRS time to receive and process your return.

In order to access your refund status you will need your Social Security number, filing status, and exact refund amount. This means you will probably need a copy of your return handy.

How long does it usually take to get a refund?

The IRS claims that it issues most refunds within 21 calendar days of receiving an e-filed return and for the most part they’re pretty good. However, you shouldn’t be surprised if you experience a delay or several weeks or even months, as they are relatively common. This past tax season the IRS was especially slow thanks to the fiscal cliff and changes they made to their system to try to prevent identity theft.

Note that refunds from a paper return take 6 to 8 weeks, which means that by far the fastest way to get your refund is to e-file.

What are some causes of delay?

If your refund takes longer than this, it could be delayed for a variety of reasons.

  • IRS backlog – When most people don’t get their refund within the estimated time range they begin to panic and assume they’re being audited. However, most of the time it’s just general IRS incompetence. Expect processing to be delayed during busy times, especially if you file right after e-file opens in January or right before the April 15th deadline.
  • Incorrect info – One of the biggest causes of preventable delays is incorrect information, and not about the complicated tax stuff, about basic personal info. Before you e-file your return make sure your name, Social Security number, address, and direct deposit bank account details are all correct. A simple typo could result in a delayed refund.

The IRS also has a mobile app, IRS2Go, if you really need to check the status of your refund on the go.

If you still haven’t filed your return, or you need to file a return from a previous year, you can do it right here on PriorTax.

Photo via hobvias sudoneighm on Flickr.

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14 Responses to “How Do I Check My Federal Tax Return Status?”

  1. Christina Torrez., says:

    Cani check on a back tax refund check for 2011 2012?

  2. Steve Negi says:

    Check on status of my tax return

    • admin says:

      Hi Steve,

      We would be more than happy to help you check the status of your return. If you are expecting a refund, you can always use the IRS “Where’s My Refund” tool. This will allow you to enter a few important pieces of information and then provide you with a refund status. If you are unable to retrieve a status, please feel free to contact our tax professionals directly and we will do our best to help.

  3. sheila l. spates says:

    I have been checking my refund status on where’s my refund, but it’s giving me no answers. My refund was mail on April 18, 2015 and it has been four weeks and some so can someone please tell me what’s going on please.

    Thank you

    Sheila L. Spates

    • admin says:

      Hi Sheila,

      Since it has exceeded the 21 day threshold and there has been no status update on the IRS Where’s My Refund tool, the IRS insists that you contact them directly. The only way the IRS will contact you is by mail so you want to be sure to check this daily as well. If you give them a call, they should be able to give you an update on your refund or let you know if there was an issue with your return.

  4. sue says:

    How to check status on previous year taxes that were accepted may 5th – waiting on tax trascripts that were involved in fraud for same year – 2013… Purchasing a house and process very slow especially now that 100,000 others had tax fruad as well. Very difficult to get through via phone

    • admin says:

      Hi Sue,

      Unfortunately, the Where’s My Refund tool does not apply to prior year tax returns. The only way to check on the status of your 2013 tax return would be to call the IRS directly. If you are having trouble getting through, you may want to contact your local IRS office.

  5. heidi says:

    How do I find out about my 2011 refund that I have not received?

  6. julie rich says:

    i still havent recived my federal taxes return and i tryed to call them and they said they have no info for me and it has been almost a month i would like to know where it is

    • admin says:

      Hi Julie,

      I strongly suggest contacting the IRS again. I know it can be frustrating to wait on hold only to hear that they have no information for you. However, the IRS states that after 21 days, they will do further research on your return (as long as you e-filed) to see the ETA on your refund or if they need additional information from you to process your return. If you did mail your return in, then they will do this further research after 6 weeks of filing.

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