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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.

How to Check Your Refund Status

Use the Where's My Refund tool or the IRS2Go mobile app to check your refund online. This is the fastest and easiest way to track your refund. The systems are updated once every 24 hours.

You can 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.

When to Expect Your Refund

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, find out why your refund may be delayed or may not be the amount you expected.

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 waiting 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 don’t 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

and/or

You may not have filed a tax return because your wages were below the filing requirement. But you can still file a return within three years of the filing deadline to get your refund.

State Refund Checks

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

Pay Federal Taxes

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:

  • Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) - This free service helps you resolve tax problems, such as being unable to pay your taxes, delayed or undelivered refunds, and more. Find a local taxpayer advocate in your area.

  • Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) - Contact a local LITC for free or low-cost services, including representation for people in disputes with the IRS and education on taxpayer rights and responsibilities. LITCs also provide help for taxpayers who speak English as a second language (ESL).
  • Office of Appeals - This independent organization within the IRS helps resolve your tax disputes without going to tax court. Learn whether an appeal is right for you.
  • Centralized Lien Operation - To resolve basic and routine tax lien issues, such as verifying a lien, requesting a lien payoff amount, or releasing a lien, call 1-800-913-6050 or write to: 

Internal Revenue Service
Centralized Lien Operation
PO Box 145595
Stop 8420G 
Cincinnati OH 45250-5595

Get Copies and Transcripts of Your Tax Returns

You may need a copy or a transcript of a prior year's tax return. Learn the difference and how to get each one.

Get a Copy of a Tax Return

Mail the following items to get an exact copy of a prior year tax return and attachments:

  • A completed Form 4506.

  • $50 fee for each tax return requested. Make the check or money order 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.

Get a Transcript of a Tax Return

A transcript is a computer printout of your return information. Sometimes a transcript is an acceptable substitute for an exact copy of your tax return. You may need a transcript when preparing your taxes. They are often used to validate income and tax filing status when applying for:

  • Mortgages 
  • Student loans
  • Small business loans, and 
  • Government assistance

Contact the IRS to get a free transcript. There are two ways you can get your transcript:  

  • Online - To read, print, or download your transcript online, you'll need to register with the IRS. To sign-up, create an account with a username and a password.  

  • By mail - To get a transcript delivered by postal mail, submit your request online. The IRS will send your transcript within 10 days of receiving your request.

Get Returns from More than Three Years Ago

If you need federal tax returns from earlier than three years ago: 

  • call the IRS Transcript Order Line at 1-800-908-9946 or
  • submit a completed Form 4506-T.

Get a State Return

For copies of state tax returns, contact your state's Department of Revenue.

Is Your Tax Refund Lower Than You Expected?

If you owe money to a federal or state agency, the federal government may use part or all of your federal tax refund to repay the debt. This is called a tax refund offset.  

How the Treasury Offset Program Works

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

  1. The Bureau of Fiscal Services (BFS) will check if your name and taxpayer information are in 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.

Here's an example: you were going to receive a $1,500 federal tax refund. But you are delinquent on a student loan and have $1,000 outstanding. BFS will deduct $1,000 from your tax refund and send it to the correct government agency. It will also send you a notice of its action, along with the remaining $500 that was due to you as a tax refund.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can help you understand more about tax refund offsets.

If a Deduction Was Made in Error

If you believe that a deduction was an error, contact the agency that said you owed money. Call the Treasury Offset Program Call Center at 1-800-304-3107 if you need help locating the agency you need to contact.

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Last Updated: November 22, 2019

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