How to Check on the Status of an IRS Tax Return

The IRS provides status updates for your tax return on its website.

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Keeping track of your tax return during processing makes sense. Whether you expect a refund or you filed an amended return, keeping current on your tax return processing helps you sleep at night. The IRS provides several tools for checking the status of an IRS tax return: an online tool, an automated phone line and a smartphone application.

Generally all information is based on the same database of information, so all tools give the same information. However, you may need to speak to a human representative to get help with an amended return inquiry.

Check Refund Status Online

Check the Where’s My Refund tool on the IRS website. Enter your tax ID number, filing status and expected refund amount. The IRS checks its database and displays your return's current status and tells when to anticipate a refund. This tool also works for visually impaired taxpayers who use the Job Access with Speech screen reader.

Allow the IRS three weeks to process electronically filed tax returns for a refund. Paper returns take six to eight weeks to process.

Check Refund Status with Smartphone

You can also ask the IRS to check the status of a return through the IRS2Go smartphone application for the iOS or Android operating systems. Using the same information as the Where’s My Refund tool, you can check the status of your IRS tax return directly from your smartphone.

Check Refund Status by Phone

Alternatively, call the IRS Refund Hotline at 800-829-1954. You need your tax ID, filing status and anticipated refund amount. The IRS tells you whether it’s been received and when to expect your refund. If a check was issued and you didn't receive it and it was never cashed, the IRS can cancel the check and send you a replacement. If it was stolen and cashed, you'll need to file a claim that could take up to six weeks to resolve.

Call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to check the status of a regular or amended IRS tax return or for other general IRS inquiries. The refund tools mentioned earlier do not work for taxpayers with amended tax returns who anticipate a refund. You’ll need to speak with an agent to check the status of your IRS tax return.

Amended returns take approximately eight to 12 weeks to process. Allow the IRS sufficient time to process your returns. The IRS generally publishes refund schedules for estimated deposit times depending on when it receives your tax return.

Tax Prep Software Users

Depending on how you filed your taxes, your tax preparation software can tell you the status of your IRS tax return. In today's digital age, you have many commercial tax preparation software options, such as TurboTax and eFile.com (an authorized IRS e-file provider). But you can also use free software provided by the IRS.

Access this IRS Free File tool by visiting IRS.gov/freefile to set up your free account. If your income is below $66,000, you'll use Free File Software, and if your income is above $66,000, you'll use Free File Fillable Forms.

Tax Scams on the Rise

The IRS hasn't announced any changes to its contact procedures for 2019, but it has announced that scams impersonating the IRS are on the rise. The IRS won't call and demand immediate payment for back taxes; in fact, the IRS will notify you by mail if you owe back taxes. On the flip side, you may receive a scam phone call notifying you of a supposed refund the IRS will release if you'll disclose personal information.

You may also receive fraudulent emails that impersonate the IRS. One common email scam preys on the generosity of taxpayers to try and solicit their donations to disaster victims. If you think you may have received a fraudulent phone call or email impersonating the IRS, contact the IRS or your local police for assistance.

Tip

  • Depending on how you filed your taxes, your tax preparation software can tell you the status of your IRS tax return.
  • The IRS publishes refund schedules for estimated deposit times depending on when it receives your tax return.

Warning

  • Pay your tax due when you file your return, to avoid interest charges. Interest begins to accrue beginning April 15 of the current tax year for any unpaid tax bill.

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About the Author

Leigh Thompson began writing in 2007 and specializes in creating content for websites. She has been published online in various capacities. Thompson has an associate degree in information technology from the University of Kansas and is working on a bachelor's degree in business and personal finance.


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