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Where’s my refund? Your CPA doesn’t know – check online

where's my refund, tax, IRS, CPAWhere’s my refund? Are you asking yourself this question? We’re in the final days of tax season. Maybe your return is already in the hands of the IRS or maybe you’re waiting until the last minute. Either way, if you’re owed money, you want to know when it’s coming, right? You may be tempted to pick up the phone and call your CPA or give the IRS a ring. Before you hit that dial, you should know that neither will be able to give you an exact refund date.

Tracking your refund

The IRS says the number one way to track it is their online “Where’s My Refund” tool. It’s available on IRS.gov and through the IRS2Go app. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Nine out of 10 refunds are typically issued in less than 21 days of the IRS receiving your return.
  • You can track the status of your return within 24 hours of the IRS receiving your e-filed return or four weeks after you’ve mailed your paper return.
  • “Where’s My Refund” is updated once every 24 hours – usually overnight – so there’s no need to keep hitting the refresh button on your browser.
  • If you don’t have internet access, you can call the “Where’s My Refund” automated hotline at (800) 829-1954.

You should only call the IRS tax help hotline regarding your refund if:

  • It’s been more than 21 days since you e-filed,
  • Six weeks or more have passed since you mailed your return, or
  • “Where’s My Refund” tells you to contact the IRS

Don’t miss: How to track the status of your amended tax return

Common refund myths

I know what you’re thinking – you’ve seen some “advice” making the rounds on social media about “secret” ways to find out when your refund will arrive. Don’t fall for it. Here’s what the IRS has to say about these myths.

  1. Again, calling the IRS or your tax professional will help you find out the date. FALSE. Telephone assistors have the same information as “Where’s My Refund?” So, there’s no need to call. And your tax professional does not have special access to IRS information.
  2. Ordering a tax transcript is a ‘secret way’ to get your refund date. FALSE. You can use transcripts to validate past income and tax filing status for various needs – but NOT to track your refund. “Where’s My Refund?” shows the processing of your tax return from start to finish.
  3. “Where’s My Refund” must be wrong because there’s no deposit date. FALSE. Even though most taxpayers receive refunds in less than 21 days, refunds may be held up for a variety of reasons. If the IRS needs more information to process your return and issue your refund, they’ll contact you by mail. It also takes time for financial institutions to post to your account or to receive a check in the mail.
  4. “Where’s My Refund?” must be wrong because my refund amount is less than I expected. FALSE. There are several reasons your tax refund could be larger or smaller than expected: there may be errors, you may owe delinquent tax, or your return may be under review – just to name a few. The IRS will mail you a letter to explain any adjustments.
  5. Getting a refund this year means there’s no need to adjust my withholding. FALSE. Maybe you’re getting a raise this year or making extra income another way. If so, you’ll need to adjust your withholding or increase estimated or additional tax payments. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator to double check your situation. And you may need to address more than just your withholding. Reach out to your CPA after tax season to talk about tax planning so you don’t miss out on smart planning opportunities that could save you tax.

Where’s my refund? It’s an age-old question with a simple answer – just head to IRS.gov to find out.

Elizabeth Bolt

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