Smart TaxesSmart Taxes

Where's your tax refund? How to check

The IRS has created a website and a smartphone app you can use. If you file electronically, you could get your money within 10 days.

By Teresa Mears Feb 10, 2012 3:16PM

People who file their tax returns early are often motivated by their desire to receive a quick refund.


And just how quickly can you get a refund?


The IRS says that most refunds are issued within 10 days if you file your return electronically. If you file a paper return, you'll wait longer.


You can check the status of your refund using the "Where's My Refund?" tool on the IRS website or with the IRS2Go smartphone app. You can even watch the IRS talk about refunds in its probably-won't-go-viral tax tip video "When Will I Get My Refund?"


The agency suggests that those who file their returns electronically check the site 72 hours after filing. If you send in a paper return, you should wait four weeks to check on your refund. (Post continues below.)

To find out the status of your refund, you'll need your Social Security number, your filing status (single, married filing jointly, etc.) and the exact amount of your refund.


"Where's My Refund" is for tracking individual refunds for the current year and doesn't provide information on business taxes or amended returns.


The date provided by the IRS is the date the agency issued the refund; it can take up to five additional days for your financial institution to post a direct deposit or for the U.S. Postal Service to deliver a paper check.


The IRS issues this caution among its frequently asked questions about 2012 refunds:

The estimated refund date initially provided via “Where's My Refund” is just that, an estimate based on a best-case scenario in which the tax return was filed accurately and there are no corrections or reviews required. However, there are many factors that could affect the processing of a taxpayer's return that may also change the estimated date the refund will be issued. 

The IRS issued a new version of its smartphone app this year. In addition to checking your refund status, you can now watch IRS videos on YouTube and receive news releases.


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