After You've Filed Your Federal Taxes

Find tax information for after you've filed your federal taxes.

Check Your Federal Tax Refund Status

If you have filed your federal income taxes and expect to receive a refund, you can track its status. Have your Social Security number, filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund ready.

The IRS recommends using its online Where's My Refund tool or the mobile app, IRS2Go. These systems are updated once every 24 hours and are the fastest, easiest ways to track your refund.

You can also call the IRS to check on the status of your refund. Wait times to speak with a representative can be long. But you can avoid the wait by using the automated phone system. Follow the message prompts when you call.

Refunds are generally issued within 21 days of when you electronically filed your tax return or 42 days of when you filed paper returns. If it’s been longer, learn about reasons why your refund may be delayed or may not be the amount you expected.

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Undelivered and Unclaimed Federal Tax Refund Checks

Every year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has millions of dollars in tax refunds that go undelivered or unclaimed. 

Undelivered Federal Tax Refund Checks

Refund checks are mailed to your last known address. If you move without notifying the IRS or the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), your refund check may be returned to the IRS.

If you were expecting a federal tax refund and did not receive it, check the IRS' Where’s My Refund page. You'll need to enter your Social Security number, filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund. You may be prompted to change your address online. 

You can also call the IRS to check on the status of your refund. Wait times to speak with a representative can be long. But you can avoid the wait by using the automated phone system. Follow the message prompts when you call.

If you move, submit a Change of Address - Form 8822 to the IRS; you should also submit a Change of Address to the USPS.

Unclaimed Federal Tax Refunds 

If you are eligible for a federal tax refund and do not file a return, then your refund will go unclaimed. Even if you aren't required to file a return, it might benefit you to file if:

  • Federal taxes were withheld from your pay


If you didn't file a tax return because your wages were below the filing requirement, you can still file a return within three years of the filing deadline in order to get your refund. 

State Refund Checks

For information about your state tax refund check, contact your state revenue department.

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Pay Federal Taxes and Resolve Tax Disputes

You can pay your federal taxes in several ways: direct pay, debit or credit card, electronic federal tax payment system, and check or money order. Find out how to make a tax payment.

Payment Options for Back Taxes 

If you owe back taxes, the IRS provides options for you to pay your tax debt:

Tax Liens

A tax lien is the government's legal claim against your property when you don't pay a tax debt. Learn how a tax lien affects you, tips to avoid a lien, and how to get rid of a tax lien

Resolve Tax Disputes

Get help resolving your tax disputes with the IRS and understanding your rights and responsibilities as a taxpayer:

Internal Revenue Service

Centralized Lien Operation

PO Box 145595

Stop 8420G 

Cincinnati OH 45250-5595

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Get Copies and Transcripts of Your Tax Returns

If you need an exact copy of a prior year tax return and attachments, you can get it by mailing the following items:

  • A completed Form 4506.
  • $50 fee for each tax return requested. The check or money order should be made payable to the United States Treasury.

Send them to the address listed in the form's instructions. The IRS will process your request within 75 calendar days.

A transcript, which is a computer printout of your return information, may be an acceptable substitute for an exact copy of your tax return. Instead of paying for a copy of your tax return, you can request a transcript online to get the information you need quickly. Transcripts are often used to validate income and tax filing status for mortgage applications, student and small business loan applications, and during tax preparation.

Contact the IRS to get a free transcript.  The IRS will send your transcript within 10 of when they received your request.

If you need federal tax returns from earlier than 3 years ago, call the IRS Transcript Order Line at 1-800-908-9946 or submit a completed form 4506-T

If you need copies of state tax returns, contact your state's Department of Revenue

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Tax Refund Reductions - Treasury Offset Program

If you owe money to a federal or state agency, the federal government may deduct your debts from your federal tax refund.   

Here's how the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) works:

  1. The Bureau of Fiscal Services (BFS) will cross check your name and taxpayer information against its delinquent debtor database.
  2. If there is a match, BFS will notify you that it is deducting the amount you owe from the payment you were going to receive.
  3. BFS will send the outstanding amount to the federal or state government agency to which you owed the money.

If you owe more money than the payment you were going to receive, then BFS will send the entire amount to the other government agency. If you owe less, BFS will send the agency the amount you owed, and then send you the remaining balance.

For example, if you were going to receive a $1,500 federal tax refund, but you have been delinquent on a student loan and have $1,000 outstanding, BFS will deduct $1,000 from your tax refund and send it to the U.S. Department of Education. It will also send you a notice of its action, along with the remaining $500 that was due to you as a tax refund.

If you believe that a deduction was made in error, you should contact the agency that said you owed money, not the IRS. Call the Treasury Offset Program Call Center at 1-800-304-3107 if you need help locating the agency you need to contact.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides tips to help you understand tax refund offsets. If you have questions about this program, check out the frequently asked questions or contact the Bureau of Fiscal Service.

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Understand the IRS 5071C Identity Verification Letter to Avoid Tax ID Theft

Tax ID theft occurs when someone uses your Social Security number to file taxes and claim a tax refund. If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) suspects tax ID theft has occurred, the agency will send a 5071C letter to the address on the federal tax return.

The 5071C letter is a legitimate letter from the IRS that provides instructions to verify that you submitted the tax return in question. 

If you receive a 5071C letter, verify your identity on the IRS' secure Identity Verification Service website, or call the toll-free number listed in your letter. You will be asked a series of questions to verify your identity. You will also be asked to confirm whether or not you filed the federal tax return in question.

You will need the following documents to verify your identity when you access the website or call:

  • Your previous year's federal tax return
  • Your current year's federal tax return, if you've already filed it
  • Supporting documents from this year's federal tax return, such as Form W-2, Form 1099, and Schedules A and C

If you are a victim of state tax ID theft, contact your state's taxation department or comptroller's office about the next steps you need to take.

How to Report 5071C Letter Scams

Although the 5071C letter is a legitimate IRS document, some scammers may be aware of this verification method. It’s important to take steps to avoid tax scams and fraud. Remember, the IRS will never start contact with you by sending an email, text, or social media message that asks for personal or financial information.

If you receive a letter, notice, or form via paper mail or fax that you suspect is from someone pretending to be from the IRS, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) or

How to Protect Yourself

Follow these steps to protect yourself from 5071C letter scams:


  • Look for the letter number in the upper corner of the page.


  • Don’t open email that claims to be a 5071C letter or claims to verify your tax return. The IRS does not send this letter or verify your identity via email.
  • Don't verify your information in response to a phone call. The IRS will not call you to verify this information, without having sent you the letter first.

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IRS Imposter Scams

IRS imposter scams occur when someone contacts you pretending to work for the IRS. The imposter may contact you by phone, email, postal mail, or even a text message. There are two common types of scams:

  • Tax collection - You receive a phone call or letter, claiming that you owe taxes. They will demand that you pay the amount immediately often with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may even threaten to arrest you if you don’t pay.

  • Verification - You receive an email or text message that requires you to verify your personal information. The message often includes a hyperlink phrase “click here” or a button to a fraudulent form or website.

Report IRS Imposter Scams

Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) if you believe that an IRS imposter has contacted you. Report IRS imposter scams online or by calling TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484. Forward email messages that claim to be from the IRS to

Tips to Avoid IRS Imposter Scams

There are things to look out for to prevent being a victim of an IRS imposter scam.


  • Beware if someone calls claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS will always contact you by mail before calling you about unpaid taxes.

  • Ask a caller to provide their name and badge number and callback number. Then call TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484 to determine if the caller is an IRS employee with a legitimate need to contact you. If the person legitimately is from the IRS, call them back. Otherwise report it to the IRS.

  • Become familiar with what fraudulent IRS email messages look like. Review a sample IRS phishing email.

  • Verify the number of the letter, form, or notice on the IRS website.

  • Be suspicious of threats. The IRS won’t threaten to have police arrest you for not paying a bill.


  • Don’t give in to demands to pay money immediately. Be especially suspicious of demands to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.

  • Don’t trust the name or phone number on a caller ID display that shows “IRS.” Scammers often change the name that shows on caller ID.

  • Don’t click on any links in email or text messages to verify your information.

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Last Updated: September 17, 2018