Congrats! After several weeks of collecting forms, you are finally ready to file your taxes. It may not be your favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but once you e-file, you can cross it off your to-do list. Filing may be a relief, but nothing is sweeter than your refund check. Here’s a timeline of what to expect this season.
Don’t miss the deadline: Monday, April 15, 2019
In case you missed the memo, tax season officially kicked off on January 28th. Despite the record-setting government shutdown, refunds should still arrive on schedule. That assumes, of course, that you file by the tax deadline — which is Monday, April 15, 2019, for most people. (Maine and Massachusetts residents get two extra days.)
How long will my federal tax refund take?
If you are waiting for your refund there’s some good news: it usually takes less than 21 days for the IRS to issue your money. But that doesn’t mean the check will arrive or the money will hit your bank account within 21 days. It’s possible there will be U.S. Postal Service delays or the money may not immediately post in your bank account.
If your return isn’t issued within 21 days, there are several possible reasons for the delay:
- There are errors in your return.
- Your return is missing information.
- You are a victim of identity theft or fraud.
- Your filing includes the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). The IRS didn’t start processing returns with these credits until February 27th.
- You included the Injured Spouse Allocation — Form 8379. This may take up to fourteen weeks to process.
- The IRS has flagged your return for further review.
If they need more information, you will receive a letter with their request. If you suspect you made a mistake, here is a checklist of some of the most common errors.
How to track your federal tax refund
If you are like most people, you may have
already earmarked your refund to pay off debt, boost your emergency fund, or
cover your vacation. The days or weeks of waiting can be agonizing. Luckily,
the IRS has a couple of easy ways to check on the status: Where’s My
Refund? and their official mobile app — IRS2Go.
Where’s My Refund? is available within 24 hours of e-filing or four weeks after sending your paper return. You will need your Social Security number, filing status, and the exact refund amount. A few clicks will reveal your progress for each of these steps:
- Was your return received?
- Was your refund approved?
- Was your refund sent?
Note: If you filed an amended return, you need to use this tool instead.
After plugging in your information, you may see a refund reference code. This code may explain why your return hasn’t been processed — and if you need to do anything specific to fix it. You can see a complete list of these codes here. If you are still confused, don’t be afraid to call the Tax Assistance Hotline: (800) 829-1040.
Rushing your return may not pay off
You may be anxious to get your tax refund, but that’s no excuse for a sloppy return. Careless errors may delay your return or create headaches for you later. Working with a qualified tax professional is the best way to avoid trouble. They can make sure you don’t miss any key deadlines or make any costly mistakes.
Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.