Where Is My Tax Refund? Your Tax Refund Explained
A tax refund puts more of your income back in your pocket. It’s like the light at the end of the tax tunnel. But you are probably wondering “When will I get my tax refund?” and “Where is my tax refund?” Here’s what you need to know.
What Is a Tax Refund?
A tax refund is money you get back from the IRS if you pay more income tax than you actually owe for the year. In 2018, more than 70 percent of taxpayers got a refund.
A tax refund is basically getting back your own earned income. And while it’s always nice to get a refund, it’s best to pay your taxes as accurately as possible; that way, you keep more of your own money up front to spend and earn interest on. So, when filing your tax return, make sure you:
Don’t procrastinate. If you rush your tax return, you may make errors that keep you from getting a refund.
Make estimated tax payments during the year. If you’re self-employed, you’ll want to make estimated quarterly tax payments throughout the year. This is because your taxes aren’t withheld from your paycheck like they are for W-2 workers.
Know your tax credits and deductions. Be sure to claim all the tax credits and deductions for which you are eligible. Otherwise, you will end up paying more taxes than you need to. Our Stride Tax app can help you accurately track these deductions.
When Will I Get My Refund?
Typically, most taxpayers who file electronically receive their refund within 21 days of their return being processed. The timeline for mailed-in paper returns, which take longer to process, is more like 6 to 8 weeks. These, of course, are just guidelines; with the many new reforms under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and the recent government shutdown, it’s reasonable to expect that these timelines might be a bit slower.
When it comes to timing your tax refund, here are a few tips:
Don’t base any financial plans on receiving a refund by a specific date. Because the timing is unpredictable, you shouldn’t include your refund into any of your financial plans.
Some rules slow down refunds. Even if you file your return electronically, you may not get your refund within the 21-day timeframe. For example, refunds for taxpayers who receive the earned income tax credit and/or additional child tax credit can’t be issued before mid-February, regardless of when you filed your return and when it was processed.
Provide accurate bank information. Plan to receive your refund via direct deposit? Make sure the IRS has the correct bank account and routing number when you file your return. If you provide the wrong information, your refund will be sent in the mail – or worse, to the wrong bank account!
Stay up-to-date on your refund status. Information about your refund is generally available 24 hours after the IRS receives your electronically-filed return (4 weeks for a paper-filed return). Keep reading to find out how to check this status.
How Can I Receive My Refund?
You can either receive your tax refund via direct deposit (i.e. the IRS sends the amount directly to your bank account) or via paper check, which comes in the mail. As long as you provide accurate bank information, direct deposit will be the faster option.
Can I Receive a Refund at the State and Federal Level?
Yes! Similar to federal taxes, you may receive a refund at the state level if your payments end up exceeding what you owe after eligible deductions and credits. Don’t forget: your state tax return needs to be sent to your state’s revenue department, not the IRS.
Where Is My Tax Refund?
The IRS provides a few tools that let you check the status of your tax refund:
Online, via the “Where’s My Refund?” tool
On your smartphone with the “IRS2GO” app
Over the phone by calling the IRS Refund Hotline (800-829-1954)
When checking your refund status, you’ll need to have some information on hand, including your Social Security Number, filing status, and tax refund amount (in whole dollars).
Want to check the status of your state tax refund? Most states have online tools you can use:
Questions about your self-employed taxes? Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.