If you didn’t get a tax refund you were expecting, don’t worry! There are a number of steps you can take to figure out what the issue may be:
1. Check the Status of Your Tax Refund
The IRS has three ways to check on the status of your refund.
1) Go online and check your status through the IRS website.
2) Use the IRS2Go mobile application.
3) Call the IRS at its toll-free hotline: 1-800-829-1954.
The IRS issues most refunds within 21 days, but some take longer. Thus, wait at least 21 days before calling the IRS to check the status of your refund. They will not process it faster, no matter how many times you call. When you check your status through any of the above methods, you’ll need to have on hand your social security number, your filing status, and your exact refund amount.
2. Wait for a Letter from the IRS for Further Instruction
There are situations where the IRS will need additional information before processing your refund or withholding it all together. If that is the case, they will send you a letter to notify you of the status of your refund. Note that the IRS will never call you. This is to prevent fraud, as IRS impersonation has become an increasing problem in recent years.
Examples of situations where you’ll get a notice letter from the IRS include:
~A Fraud Alert: Before issuing your refund check, the IRS may need to verify your identity by asking you some profile questions. They may ask about previous addresses you’ve lived at and information from a prior tax return.
~Incomplete Information: If your tax return is incomplete and/or contains errors, you may receive instruction from the IRS on how to submit the correct information.
~You Owe Debt Back Taxes: The IRS will withhold your tax return and pay off any federal or state tax liabilities from previous years.
~You Owe Child Support: The IRS may also withhold your tax return to offset past-due child support obligations.
3. Be Patient and Wait at Least 14 Weeks if You Claimed the EITC or ACTC
As mentioned above, the IRS processes most returns within three weeks with some exceptions, including if you’ve claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). For both of these situations, the law requires the IRS to withhold EITC and ACTC refunds until mid-February, with direct deposits being available starting February 27, 2018, pending no other issues with your tax return.
4. Wait at Least 5 Days After Your Tax Refund Has Been Approved to Receive It
If you’ve checked your refund status and the IRS indicates it’s already been approved, you will need to wait five days before it’s posted to your bank account via direct deposit. However, if you had your refund issued as a check, the IRS may take several weeks to issue it.
In either case, if it’s already been a while since the IRS has approved the refund, you may have an issue with identity or mail theft to deal with.
5. If You Suspect Your Tax Refund Didn’t Arrive because of Identity Theft, File IRS Form 14039
If you’ve done all of the above and your refund still hasn’t been processed, you may be a victim of identity theft. Other situations where you should be suspicious include an IRS letter notifying you that:
~You’ve filed more than one return.
~You have a refund offset that you’re unaware of.
~The IRS is trying to collect taxes from you in a year that you didn’t file.
In these cases, filing Form 14039 with the IRS will help you resolve an issue of identity theft as soon as possible. You can also file a report with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
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