How to Track an IRS Refund Using a Tracking Number

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If you are wondering why you haven't received your federal income tax refund, there are three ways to check the status of your IRS tax return's status. Electronic filers can go to the IRS website (www.irs.gov) and click on the"Where's my refund?" link (in the column at the right side of the page), and those who filed by mail may call the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-829-4477 or visit the nearest IRS office. If you filed your return online and have not received your refund within 28 days from the IRS mailing date, you may initiate a trace online.

Things You'll Need

  • Copy of you tax return
  • Taxpayer identification number (or Social Security number)

"Where's my refund?"

  • Double-check information on your federal tax return, particularly your Social Security number, your residential and (if different) mailing address (including ZIP code), and your bank account number (if requesting direct-deposit). If you're one digit off, that might explain the delay.

  • Give your refund time to reach you. If you have filed electronically, wait at least seven days before beginning to track it. If you have filed by mail, you will need to allow up to six weeks for processing.

  • Check your bank account. If you have chosen direct-deposit, the refund typically shows up in your account well before you have received any other notification. The depositor's name will say "US Department of Treasury."

  • Find your filing information. You will need your Social Security number or taxpayer identification number, your filing status and the expected amount of your refund. You need to be exact with the dollar amount of the refund anticipated, since the IRS' computer system uses this number to retrieve the information.

  • Contact the IRS. If tracking online, once you click the "Where's my refund?" link, you will be prompted to enter your personal filing information. After that, you will be given a series of prompts. If tracking by phone or in person, bring your tax return with you, along with proper identification and any correspondence you may have received from the IRS.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be sure to save copies of your returns, as well as copies of any pertinent information about your filing status, and any correspondence and electronic receipts you may have received. You should also make note of which website address you filed from (from such online tax-preparation sites as Turbo-Tax), the date you filed and any confirmation numbers you are given. Be specific.
  • The IRS will never send you an email asking you to follow a link to its website. If you receive such a message, go online to the IRS home page and, under the words "I need to..." on the right side of the page, click on "report phishing" for instructions.

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