One common question I get around this time every year is “when can I expect my tax refund?”.
As a San Francisco tax attorney, I talk to a lot of people who look forward each year to receiving a tax refund. A lot of folks depend on that money to schedule vacations, pay bills, or put a dent in credit card debt. Approximately 75 percent of United States tax filers receive a refund, which historically averages approximately $3,000.
However, it can sometimes seem like forever when you are waiting for your check or direct deposit from Uncle Sam and you may find yourself wondering how soon to expect your tax refund. The time frame is even more questionable this year, seeing as how the government was recently shut down for a number of weeks — leading many to believe that refunds might be delayed.
This year, the IRS anticipates that most refunds will be issued in 21 days or less, and some people have reported that they received their refunds in as little as seven days. If your tax return was not complicated and you did not make any mistakes, you can probably expect a refund within these time frames.
However, there are certain things that may increase waiting time. For example, if you made any filing mistakes or any of your pertinent data was entered wrong, the IRS may have to contact you to verify certain information. There may also be a delay if your tax return was pulled for an audit or if it was particularly complex. Fortunately, most returns are processed quickly without complications.
There is a way to discover your refund status if you think you have been waiting too long.
For instant, you can go to the “Where’s My Refund” website https://www.irs.gov/refunds/about-wheres-my-refund to check the status of your refund. In fact, you can begin checking as early as 24 hours after you filed electronically or one month after mailing your return to the IRS through the United States mail. Updates are typically completed every 24 hours on this site, and therefore you can check daily if you so desire. If you have trouble getting internet access or prefer to use the phone, you can call 800-829-1954 for an automatic teller to obtain the same information.
If you were not contacted by the IRS concerning any problems or mistakes on your return and it has been more than three weeks since you filed electronically or six weeks since you mailed a hardcopy return, you should call the IRS to speak to someone about why your refund has been delayed.
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