Smart TaxesSmart Taxes

How to track down your tax refund

You can call, but the IRS would rather you checked online.

By Jeff Schnepper Apr 7, 2010 10:21AM

OK, where’s my refund? I filed early, as the IRS requested, but I still haven’t gotten my check.


If you’re in this situation, what do you do?


You can start by calling 1-800-829-1954. If you filed more than four weeks ago, call 1-800-829-4477.

But, the IRS really doesn't want to talk to you. They’d prefer you go to and click on “Where’s My Refund.” If you e-file, you can get refund information 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your return. If you file a paper return, the IRS doesn’t post refund information until three to four weeks after the return has been mailed.


When checking the status of your refund, have a copy of your return in front of you. To get personal refund information, you’ll need:

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your filing status: single, joint, head of household or married filing separately.
  • The exact dollar refund amount shown on your return.

The IRS online site will be able to:

  • Acknowledge receipt of your return.
  • Identify the mailing date or direct-deposit date of your refund.
  • Note a failure to deliver because of an incorrect address, which can be corrected online.

If your return has been received, and the IRS has sent out a check, you can start a refund trace at the IRS site four weeks from the IRS mailing date.

Refunds are normally sent out weekly, on Fridays. Personally, I’d prefer to owe the IRS (without interest or penalty) rather than get a big refund. That way, I have the use of the money during the year, and any interest earned from it.


The average refund for 2008 was $2,400. The total refunded was almost $257 billion. That’s a huge interest-free loan to the IRS.




Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.