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Still waiting for your tax refund? Use IRS tracking tools to see the status of your money



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The IRS is still processing returns and issuing refunds.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you haven’t received your tax refund from the IRS yet, you’re not alone. This year, the IRS is experiencing more delays in refunds than usual for several reasons — from sending weekly batches from stimulus payments to recalculation re taxes paid on unemployment benefits.

Fortunately, you can check the status of your tax refund online. By using two IRS tools, you can see if there’s a problem with your refund or if it’s on the way. (You can also try calling the IRS for help, but the agency warned that telephone assistance is “extremely limited.”) We’ll tell you how to find your money. And if you received a deposit from the IRS labeled “310,” we can also tell you how that relates to your refund.

If your third stimulus check missing, we can help — there are ways to follow that payment. You may want to check if the government has wage arrears that you must claim. If you have children, you can calculate this as follows: how much money you might be because of the extensive children’s discounts this year. We recently updated this story.

Why are there currently delays for tax refunds?

Due to the pandemic, the IRS ran at limited capacity in 2020, which put a strain on its ability to process tax returns and send incentive checks. The IRS is now open again and processing mail, tax returns, payments, refunds and correspondence, the agency said, but the pandemic continues to cause delays to some services.

The IRS said it now makes most refunds in less than 21 days, but some take longer, including for paper tax returns. The IRS said it also takes longer than 21 days to issue refunds for some 2020 tax returns that need review, such as determining credit for recovery discount amounts for the first and second incentive checks or calculating the amounts of income tax and additional child tax credit.

How can you check the status of your tax refund online?

To check the status of your income tax refund using the IRS trackers, you have several things at hand: your Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number, your filing status — single, married, or householder — and your full dollar refund amount, which you can be found on your tax return. Also, make sure it’s been at least 24 hours before trying to track your refund.

Use the IRS tool Where’s My Refund, enter your Social Security Number or ITIN, your filing status, and your exact refund amount, then press To send. If you have entered your details correctly, you will be taken to a page with your refund status. If not, you may be asked to verify your personal tax information and try again. If all the information looks correct, you will need to enter the date you filed your taxes, along with whether you filed electronically or on paper.

The IRS also has a mobile app called IRS2Go that checks the status of your tax refund. The IRS updates the data in this tool overnight, so if you don’t see a status change after 24 hours or more, come back the next day.






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What do these messages mean about your tax refund?

Both the IRS tools (online and mobile app) show you one of three messages to explain your tax filing status.

  • Received: The IRS now has your tax return and is processing it.
  • Approved: The IRS has processed your return and confirmed the amount of your refund, if you owe one.
  • sent: Your refund is now on its way to your bank via direct deposit or as a paper check to your mailbox. (here’s how to) change the address in the file if you have moved.)

What Does an IRS ‘310’ Direct Deposit Do?

If you receive your tax refund as a direct deposit, you may see “IRS TREAS 310” for the transaction. The number “310” identifies the transaction as an IRS tax refund. If you see “449” instead, it means your refund has been settled for past due debts. You may also see “TAX REF” in a description field for a refund.

When can you expect your tax refund?

The IRS usually issues tax refunds within 21 days, and many people get their refunds much sooner. However, this year, as the IRS faces complications, some taxpayers are expected to face longer wait times to receive their payments.

If there are errors, it may take longer to process and fulfill your tax refund. The same applies to people who have submitted an application for a payroll tax credit or de child tax credit. (Here is who is eligible for the child discount.)

The date you get your tax refund also depends on how you filed your return. For example, going with refunds to your bank account via direct deposit, it can take up to five days for your bank to deposit the money into your account. This means that if it took the IRS the full 21 days to issue your check and your bank five days to post it, you can wait a total of 26 days to receive your money.

If you filed your tax return by mail, the IRS says it can take six to eight weeks for your tax refund to arrive. That’s where tracking your refund comes in handy. Here are some possible dates you could receive your refund if you submit or plan to submit an electronic application.

When your tax refund could arrive, if there is no extra delay

If you deposit or have submitted by this date

This is the fastest

This is the newest

March 1

8 March

March 22nd

April 1st

April 8

April 22nd

15 of April

April 22nd

6 May

May 17 (last day to submit)

May 24

June 7

Oct 15 (last day with extension)

Oct 22

Nov 5

Why is your tax refund delayed?

The IRS has a list of reasons your refund may be delayed.

  • Your tax return contains errors.
  • It’s incomplete.
  • Your refund has been affected by identity theft or fraud.
  • You have applied for the payroll tax credit or additional child tax credit.
  • Your return must be further assessed.
  • Your return includes Form 8379 (PDF), Injured Spouse Assignment – this can take 14 weeks to process.

What about calling the IRS with questions about your refund?

While you can call the IRS to check your status, the agency’s live telephone assistance is currently extremely limited, so you may be on hold for a while to speak with a representative. The IRS also says you should only call if it’s been 21 days or more since you filed your taxes online, or if the Where’s My Refund tool tells you to contact the IRS. This is the number to call: 800-829-1040.

For more information about your 2020 taxes, here is how to claim missing incentive money? about your taxes and everything you need to know about the third stimulus check.


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