Time for another tax time article. The deadline to file is approaching fast, so if you haven't started, time to get out that sharpened number 2 pencil (or some tax software). Don't wait until the last minute, especially if you are filing for the first-time home buyer tax credit. Those returns must be filed by paper returns, so you could be in line at the post office on April 15 with all the other procrastinators.
If you have already completed your taxes and know if you owe money to the IRS or are getting a refund, here are the top 10 things you should know about your anticipated refund.
Refund Options You have three options for receiving your individual federal income tax refund: a paper check, direct deposit or U.S. Savings Bonds. You can now use your refund to buy up to $5,000 in U.S. Series I savings bonds in multiples of $50.
Separate Accounts You may use Form 8888, Direct Deposit of Refund to More Than One Account, to request that your refund be allocated by direct deposit among up to three separate accounts, such as checking or savings or retirement accounts. You may also use this form to buy U.S Savings Bonds.
Paper Return Processing Time If you file a complete and accurate paper tax return, your refund will usually be issued within six weeks from the date it is received.
Returns Filed Electronically If you filed electronically, your refund will normally be issued within three weeks after the acknowledgment date.
Check the Status Online The fastest and easiest way to find out about your current year refund is to go to IRS.gov and click the “Where’s My Refund?” link at the IRS.gov home page. To check the status online you will need your Social Security number, filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund shown on your return.
Check the Status By Phone You can check the status of your refund by calling the IRS Refund Hotline at 800-829-1954. When you call, you will need to provide your Social Security number, your filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of the refund shown on your return.
Delayed Refund There are several reasons for delayed refunds. For things that may delay the processing of your return, refer to Tax Topic 303 at IRS.gov, which includes a Checklist of Common Errors When Preparing Your Tax Return.
Larger than Expected Refund If you receive a refund to which you are not entitled, or one for an amount that is more than you expected, do not cash the check until you receive a notice explaining the difference. Follow the instructions on the notice.
Smaller than Expected Refund If you receive a refund for a smaller amount than you expected, you may cash the check. If it is determined that you should have received more, you will later receive a check for the difference. If you did not receive a notice and you have questions about the amount of your refund, wait two weeks after receiving the refund, then call 800-829-1040.
Missing Refund The IRS will assist you in obtaining a replacement check for a refund check that is verified as lost or stolen. If the IRS was unable to deliver your refund because you moved, you can change your address online. Once your address has been changed, the IRS can reissue the undelivered check.