Terry’s Columns Where’s My Refund?

Where’s My Refund?

By Terry Savage on April 26, 2024

What do you do if your IRS tax refund still hasn’t arrived? Now that the IRS has received most 2023 tax filings and should have sent your refund, it’s worth investigating.

How you should proceed depends on how you filed, who filed for you (an accounting firm, online tax prep service, or tax preparer) and how you expected your refund to arrive.

First, carefully check your tax return to make sure you listed your banking information correctly, assuming you’re expecting an online refund deposit. And check your bank statement online, which you’ve probably been doing regularly!

If you used a tax preparation service, contact them first. Many services designate your refund to come back to THEIR account – and you might not have noticed that. Often, they say they will take their tax prep fees out of your refund – and this is their way of making sure they have access to the money! You might need to contact them to get your remaining refund.

Check your return to see if the person who prepared it gave instructions that your anticipated refund instead be applied to next year’s taxes! Perhaps you missed that in the discussions.

If, at this point, you’re still frustrated and have tried to call the IRS but can’t get through, here are some suggestions. Do them in this order:

1. Where’s My Refund Go to www.IRS.gov and in the search box put the term “where’s my refund”. That will take you to a page that explains your refund information should be posted 24 hours after you e-file a current-year return, 3 or 4 days after you e-file a prior-year return, or 4 weeks after you file a paper return. Or go directly to www.IRS.gov/refunds.

Click on the “search” button and you’ll be asked to input your Social Security number, tax year, filing status, and the exact whole dollar refund amount shown on your tax return.
When you click “submit” you’ll get the latest status on your refund.

If the refund is for the current (2023) filing, you can also call their specific toll-free number: 800-829-1954. For previous years, you must check online.
If you see that your refund has been issued, but you haven’t received it, you can start a “trace” to track it down.

2. Office of Taxpayer Assistance If you’ve followed the above steps and still can’t find your refund, it’s time to turn to the office of Taxpayer Assistance. Go to www.IRS.gov and in the search box put in “taxpayer assistance.” That will lead you to the appropriately-named Form 911. It’s a short form, and the way to get the process started. Use this link to go directly.
The form comes in both English and Spanish, so scroll down to get the correct form you need.

3. Taxpayer Advocate The Taxpayer Advocate is a separate, independent organization within the IRS. They offer free help to guide you through the process of resolving tax problems that you haven’t been able to solve on your own. To reach the closest office (each state has at least one), go to www.IRS.gov and in the search box enter “taxpayer advocate.” That leads you to a page explaining how the Taxpayer Advocate works, and on that page there is a search box on this page that will give you the closest office. Or you can also call the Taxpayer Advocate Service toll-free at 877-777-4778.

4. Create an IRS.gov Account This little-known process allows you to see exactly what’s going on in your “account” with the IRS! It’s what the IRS telephone reps turn to when answering your questions. To create your own IRS.gov account, go to https://www.irs.gov/payments/your-online-account

The first thing you’ll see is a “Sign-In” box, which will be confusing since you don’t already have an account. Click anyway, the next page will allow you the option to <> an ID.me account, via a secure service-provider to the IRS. To create that account you’ll need your Social Security number as well as a a government-issued picture ID, such as your driver’s license. It’s worth the time to go through this process.

The IRS only seems impenetrable. If you use the technology correctly, you can get answers and help. And that’s The Savage Truth.



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