Have you already filed your taxes and are waiting for your income tax refund? Do you need to know if your stimulus check is on its way? If so, this blog post is for you!
You may be wanting to spend your tax refund on bills, investments to build your net worth or even a smart home gym. Below, we will look at the steps needed to track your federal tax return, state tax return, and stimulus check.
Next, we'll take a closer look at what you can do to get your tax return faster. We will also show you some tips for optimizing how you spend your tax refund. Let's get started.
Where's My Tax Refund?
Follow the steps below to track your Federal and State tax refund, but first ensure that enough time has passed since you filed your return and that the IRS has received your return.
When Should I Expect My Refund?
The IRS issued most tax refunds within 21 days of receipt unless errors or a thorough review are required.
Covid Related Operational Delays
With Covid, IRS operations can be affected, so it's a good idea to check if you should be expecting any delays in processing your refund by clicking here. In general, if there are delays past 21 days, your return requires special handling or extra information. Watch out for online updates or a notice in your mail.
Where's My Federal Tax Refund?
The first step in tracking your Federal tax refund is to ensure that the IRS received your Federal income tax return. Whether you filed by mail, using e-filing software, or through a tax-preparation service like Turbotax, you can check if your return was received by signing into your online IRS account.
You can also download the ‘IRS2GO' app to check your federal refund status. You may also have emails from your tax filing website or software that confirms the receipt of your tax return.
These options are usually simpler and faster than calling the IRS helpline. Ensure that it has been at least 24 hours since you filed your e-return or at least four weeks since you mailed in your federal return.
Check the Status of Your Refund Using the ‘Where's My Refund Tool
The IRS has a great online tool to help you keep track of your federal tax refund. This portal will show you the status of your return, as well as how much money you can expect in return. You will need to input critical information, such as your Social Security number, filing status, and the exact refund amount from your filed return.
Ensure that at least 24 hours have passed since you filed your e-return or at least four weeks since you mailed a paper return. The online tracker will walk you through the following statuses:
- Return Received – your tax return was received by the IRS, along with the date it was received
- Refund Approved – IRS approved your tax refund
- Refund Sent – Your refund is on the way via paper check or direct deposit
The ‘where's my refund tool will only provide you updates on your latest tax return. If you are looking for details of past years' returns, then log into your online IRS account.
Where's My State Tax Refund?
There are multiple ways to check the status of your refund for state taxes. Most states have an online system similar to the ‘Where's My Refund' site, where taxpayers can enter their Social Security number and date of birth to see if their tax refund has been processed. Other methods include calling the state's department of revenue.
If it has been more than 24 hours since you filed your e-return or four weeks since you mailed in your return, then follow this link to find the online tax portal or the contact information for your state's tax authority.
How do I get a Tax Refund Faster?
There are a few things you can do to speed up the process of getting your tax refund.
- File electronically: Electronically filing your return will help reduce the chances of errors and ensure that your individual income tax refund is processed quickly. Filing by mail introduces up to a 4-week delay before the IRS receives your return. Then, another 21 days are required for the return to be processed. Online returns can be processed much faster, usually within three weeks. In total, paper returns can take 4 to 7 weeks to be processed.
- Use direct deposit: When you file your taxes electronically and choose to have your refund deposited directly into your bank account, it'll be in your hands within days instead of weeks. You can direct the IRS to deposit your refund across three different bank accounts. Should you choose, you can deposit directly into your savings account, investment account, and retirement account.
- Check for errors: Once you've filed, be sure to check the tax refund status of your return frequently for any mistakes that may need correcting. This can slow down the process if not caught and corrected promptly. The IRS will send you a notice at your mailing address.
- Adjust your withholdings: You are paying too much tax upfront if you consistently get a large refund each year. You can fill out form W-4 to direct your employer to adjust your withholding tax at the source. This way, you'll get a smaller refund, but you will also be able to use the excess money from tax savings all year long.
- Ensure your address is up to date: Each year, millions of dollars worth of tax refund checks go back to the IRS because the address on file is incorrect. If you have recently moved, ensure that you have submitted a change of address form to the IRS and updated your address with the USPS.
Following these tips should help minimize wait time and get you on track for a successful tax season.
Why is My Tax Refund Delayed?
Some tax returns take longer to process than others. In general, if your return is error-free and complete, it will get processed within 21 days. Some reasons that can delay processing are:
- Incomplete information
- IRS suspects identity theft or fraud
- Some claims require additional reviews like the Recovery Rebate Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, Additional Child Tax Credit, Injured Spouse Allocation, etc.
The IRS will contact you by mail if they require any additional information or corrections. Usually, if the ‘Where's my refund' tool does not have an updated return status, then call center agents will not either.
Where is My Coronavirus Stimulus Check?
The IRS has been distributing the third round of Economic Impact Payments of $1,400 per eligible individual since March 2021. Eligibility is based on your 2019 tax return and income thresholds. All payments were to be completed by December 31st.
IRS will have mailed notice 1444-C to your mailing address if you are eligible for the third round of payments. In some cases, you may qualify for additional plus-up payments based on your 2020 tax return.
If you have received the notice but have not received your check yet, log in to the IRS Get My Payment tool to check when and how IRS will send your payment.
You can also log in to the IRS online account to check the amount of all three stimulus payments made to you.
What Should I do With My Tax Refund?
The options are endless, but here are a few suggestions on making the most out of your tax return.
Overall, having a solid personal financial plan will make it easy to prioritize how best to utilize your tax refund. In general, we recommend paying off any high-interest loans, like outstanding credit card balances. If you still have money left, invest in your future by putting the money into retirement investment accounts like the Roth IRA.
- Pay off high-interest loans.
- Invest in an IRA account or other investments
- Use it as a down payment for a new home or investment property
- Put money into savings for an emergency fund or retirement account
- Invest in your health – Buy weights for your home gym or invest in non-toxic cookware
Each individual will have different needs, so be sure to think about what would work best for you before making any decisions.
There you have it. Now go out there and make this year your most financially successful one yet! By following the simple steps above, you can ensure that you receive your tax refund as fast as possible and optimize how you use it.
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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
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Ash & Pri are the Founders of AshandPri.com where they empower others to make smart money decisions across all aspects of life. They achieved financial freedom in their 30's and have traveled to over 30 countries, thanks to a disciplined approach to money management. Both hold an MBA degree and have 13+ years of experience in financial services, consulting, and telecommunications.