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Where's My Refund? How to Check the Status of My Tax Return

Find out if the IRS received your tax return and check the status of your refund. Learn why your tax refund could be lower than you expected.

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.

Find out if Your Tax Return Was Submitted

You can file your tax return by mail, through an e-filing website or software, or by using the services of a tax preparer. Whether you owe taxes or you’re expecting a refund, you can find out your tax return’s status by:

If you file your taxes by mail, using USPS Certified Mail or other services at your local post office will allow you to track your tax return and get a confirmation when the IRS has received it. 

What Information Should I Have to Get My Tax Return Status?

If you call the IRS, you should have the following information ready when you ask about your tax return’s status:

  • Social Security number and birth date

  • Filing status: Are you single, married, or a head of household?

  • Any prior communications from the IRS

What Is the Status of My State Tax Return?

To see if your state tax return was received, you can check with your state’s revenue or taxation website. There, you can find out whether your refund is being processed or get further contact information to confirm that your return was received.

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 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 your tax refund.
  3. BFS will send the outstanding amount to the 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 at 1-800-304-3107 to locate the agency you need to contact.

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.

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Last Updated: January 30, 2020

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