Waiting for a refund check can be frustrating. Several factors can cause this delay, ranging from avoidable issues, like taxpayer filing errors, to unavoidable circumstances. There are resources available for checking the status of your refund.
Causes for Delay
Your refund check could be delayed if there are any errors with your filing. Common mistakes include missing Social Security numbers, checking more than one filing status and errors in calculation, although the IRS usually corrects these itself. The amount of time it takes an agent to verify the information you have provided could lengthen the processing time. Delays could also stem from problems at the IRS office, although this is rare. In 2010, for instance, the office had to update the computers to reflect new tax laws, which delayed tax processing by a few weeks.
If there are no errors in your tax filing, and you filed electronically, you can expect your refund within three weeks. If you filed via mail, it should arrive within six weeks. If you had to make corrections to your tax filing and file an amendment, your refund check should arrive in eight to 12 weeks.
If your refund check is taking longer than expected to arrive, you can check the status using one of the IRS’s recommended tools. Check online with “Where’s My Refund?” or call the Refund Hotline at 800-829-1954. Both systems will ask you to provide your Social Security number, your filing status and the whole dollar refund amount. If you filed electronically, you can begin to check the status of your refund as soon as 72 hours after you file. If you filed a paper return, you can begin checking four weeks after your filing date.
There’s a silver lining if you don’t receive your refund check in time. If it doesn't arrive within 45 days from the date you filed your return, you are entitled to interest on the amount from the IRS. Note, however, that this is taxable income that you’ll have to report in your next tax filing.