The Internal Revenue Service offers several ways for you to track the progress of your tax return. They suggest you start by using its “Where’s My Refund?” online tool or the IRS2Go mobile app. Calling an IRS representative or walking into an IRS office to talk to a representative won’t provide you any more up-to-date information than you can receive online.
When To Check IRS Refund Status
You can start checking the status within 24 hours of when the IRS receives your e-filed return. You should be able to get initial confirmation that the return has been received via the program you used to file the return. If you mailed in your federal tax return, you have to wait four weeks before checking the status. In either case, the record isn’t updated more than once a day, with that update generally occurring overnight. Checking the site every few minutes to see if your refund has been processed won’t be a fruitful exercise.
When You Owe
If you owed the IRS taxes and paid by check, contact your financial institution to make sure it cleared. If it didn't, and it's been at least two weeks since you sent the payment, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to ask if the amount has been credited to your account. You also can use this number to confirm that your return has been processed. If you filed an amended return, go to IRS.gov and click the "Where's My Amended Return" button. Note that it can take up to 16 weeks for amended returns to be processed, and three weeks for it to show up in the system.
A link to the “Where’s My Refund” tool can be found at irs.gov/refunds. To access your information, you need your Social Security number or Individual Tax Identification number. You also need your filing status and the exact amount of your anticipated refund. Once you’re logged in, you can see your status listed in one of three stages: Return Received, Refund Approved or Refund Sent.
Using the App
IRS2Go is the official app of the Internal Revenue Service; among its features is the ability to check your refund status. The process is similar to using the online tool – you need to enter your Social Security or Tax Identification number, filing status and your expected refund. Once you click the submit button, you receive your refund status. The app is available for Android and Apple smartphones and tablets.
You can get updates on your refund status by calling 1-800-829-1954 and providing the same information you would use online. Getting an update from a live person is a trickier proposition. The IRS generally issues refunds within 21 days after the return is received electronically. It requests that you not call for a status update until that period has passed, or unless your Where’s My Refund update directs you to contact the IRS. At that point, call the main IRS telephone number at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS warns that you can expect extended hold times waiting for someone to pick up.
- JimVallee/iStock/Getty Images