Once we go through all the headaches of putting our taxes together and filing them, the next step is hopefully waiting for the refund to come. That can seem like an excruciating wait, particularly if there is a spring vacation that would be much more fun with that extra cash on hand. However, the government is a little backed up at the moment because of the shutdown, so the wait may be longer than normal. Nevertheless, according to the IRS, nine out of 10 refunds go out within 21 days.

The IRS also recommends that that the fastest way for taxpayers to get their refund is to use the e-filing system with direct deposit of the refund. The direct deposits started going into bank accounts on February 27.

21st century taxes

The IRS now has a tool called Where’s My Refund?, which is available through IRS2Go app. Within 24 hours of receiving an e-filed return or four weeks after mailing in the traditional paper version, the taxpayer can start to track the return on the app. The three steps are:

  1. Return received
  2. Refund approved
  3. Refund sent

To use this tool, the taxpayer need only have their Social Security Number, the tax filing status (married, single, head of household) and the amount claimed on the return. The app is updated with new information about the status of the return every 24 hours.

When do I call and check?

There is really no need to worry about the return until:

  • It has been 21 days since e-filing a return
  • It has been six weeks since I mailed my paper return in
  • The Where’s My Refund app tells you to contact the IRS

What about penalties?

It is generally advised that those taxpayers who owe money should pay as much as possible to reduce penalties and minimize interest. Taxpayers can explore their options by visiting the payment section of the web site. Those who are unable to pay the full amount or dispute the findings of IRS are advised to consult a knowledgeable tax attorney. While a CPA is useful for filing taxes, the attorney is the one who can be most help if there is a dispute or audit.