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Where Has My Refund Gone? How To Check The Progress of Your Tax Refund

Triston Martin

Feb 10, 2024

Since April 15th has come and gone, you should have already submitted your tax return for 2021. Unless you requested a tax extension.

But now you have to wait for your tax refund to come. However, this year's wait might be longer than usual, especially if you submitted a paper return because the IRS is currently working through a large backlog of returns from prior years.

Even the smallest of delays might be pretty irritating if you need financial assistance. The IRS's "Where's My Refund" page is a helpful tool for those anxiously awaiting their refunds.

What You Can Do With the Where's My Refund Tool

Your tax refund status may be checked using the "Where's My Refund?" service three to four days after you electronically submit your 2019 or 2020 return or within 24 hours after the IRS receives your electronically filed 2021 return. If you have received your tax refund, it will usually say one of the following:

  • Obtained (The Internal Revenue Service currently has your federal return in processing.)
  • Approved (the IRS is planning to issue you a refund) or
  • Sent (the money is on its way).

If the IRS is still evaluating your return, the tool may provide instructions or an explanation of the IRS's actions. The tool will provide an expected payment date after your refund has been processed and accepted.

How to Use the Where My Refund? Application

To utilize the "Where's My Refund" tool, you'll need to provide your Social Security number, your filed status from your 2022 tax return, and the full amount of your refund.

If you filed your taxes as a married couple, you could use either person's Social Security number. In terms of filing, you can choose from the following:

  • Single;
  • Couples who are filing a joint return because they are married
  • Couples Who File Separate Tax Returns
  • The Family's Primary Decision-Maker; and
  • Eligible Widow (er).

Ensure you use the right line on your tax return to enter the refund amount. Use the amount on Line 35a if you filed 1040, 1040-SR, or 1040-NR. Your refund amount may be found on Line 14a of your 1040-PR or 1040SS.

Mismatched Tax Refunds and Filings

If you owe money to the federal government, a state government, an unemployment insurance agency, a child support agency, a spousal support agency, or the federal government for anything other than taxes, all or part of your return might be taken away from you (called an "offset") (e.g., student loans).

Get in touch with the organization you owe money to determine if this occurred to your tax return or if you have any queries concerning an offset.

If the IRS makes modifications to your tax return, it may potentially affect the amount of your tax refund. If your tax situation has changed, the IRS will write you a notification detailing the modifications.

When an IRS adjustment affects your tax refund, you may find out why by using the "Where's My Refund" service. Do not place the direct deposit or cash the check if the tax refund was not deposited into your tax account. Instead, you should return the money to the IRS by following the instructions.

Monitoring Tax Credits from Rectified Returns

Using the "Where's My Refund" tool to track for details about an updated federal income tax return filed on Form 1040X is currently not possible. The progress of an updated tax return for the current tax year and up to three past tax years may be monitored, though, with the help of a dedicated tool.

The website is named the "Where's My Amended Return" page, which is self-explanatory. You'll need to enter your SSN, birthday, and postal code before you can use the tool. The processing time for an updated return to appear on the portal is up to three weeks after it was mailed.

The IRS takes up to 16 weeks to complete an updated return; however, because of the recent COVID outbreak, that time has increased to almost 20 weeks. You may check the status of your amended return using the "Where's My Amended Return" feature.

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