Where’s My Tax Refund: 3 Common Reasons for Delays

tax return

If you’re anxiously watching the mailbox wondering where your tax refund is, you’re certainly not alone. Many people are counting on their tax refund to help fund their most recent home improvement project or pay off debt that’s been lingering around for the last millennium. Okay, maybe that last one was a bit harsh, but you get the idea.

It might have been several days or weeks since you filed your federal and state taxes, and you’re wondering what’s the holdup. Here are a few things that can delay your tax refund, and how you can track it down.

How Long Should a Federal Tax Return Take?

According to the IRS website, the IRS issues more than 90 percent of refunds within 21 days starting in 2012. Federal refunds are now being issued “to more taxpayers in as few as 10 days this year” following technology improvements. They note that “taxpayers should keep in mind that many variables can affect the speed of a tax refund.”

What Are Common Reasons for a Delay?

If you haven’t received your refund in a timely manner from the IRS, there are a few things that can delay the process.

  1. Common errors. Oops, you didn’t write your Social Security or tax identification numbers correctly. Maybe your address was incorrect, or your bank routing number was incorrect and the refund didn’t go through.
  2. Refund reviews. Your tax refund is being reviewed to prevent fraudulent and erroneous refunds. Even legitimate tax returns are sometimes reviewed to ensure nobody is cheating the system.
  3. Technology adjustments. The IRS sometimes adjusts their systems during filing season, which can translate into short refund delays.

Other Variables That Cause Delays

According to Robert Todd, there are other variables that cause delays. For example, if you owe a state or federal debt, you can “certainly” expect that your tax refund will be delayed. Some of these debts include:

  • Student loans through a federal agency not on course to be repaid.
  • Owed child support where there has been an adjudication of how much you owe and you are in arrears not making timely payments.
It is alluded to that any debt owed to the federal or state governments can delay tax returns. It is advised that you pay these debts on time and/or in full to ensure no delays result.

How Can I Get Refunds Faster?

Great question. Using e-file with direct deposit is the fastest option for taxpayers . . . especially because you’ll receive your refund right into your bank account. Some taxpayers are required, however, to file paper tax returns so that they can submit required documentation. These paper returns take longer to process.

How To Check Your Federal Tax Return Status

You can check your federal tax return status through the “Where’s My Refund” tool on IRS.gov. In addition, there’s a smartphone app called “IRS2Go” that allows you to check the status.

Here’s what you’ll need to know in order to check the status of your refund:

  • Your Social Security Number (or IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) shown on your tax return.
  • Filing Status (Single, Married-Filing Joint Return, Married-Filing Separate Return, Head of Household, or Qualifying Widower).
  • The exact whole dollar refund amount shown on your tax return. Providing the exact whole dollar amount is essential to receive a correct response.

What About State Tax Refunds?

Every state has different processing times and it is suggested that you search Google for your state’s department of revenue for more information.

However, state tax refund return times roughly match federal return times, and many of the laws are similar. Follow your state’s guidelines and you should receive your refund within a few weeks.

Have you filed your taxes yet? Received a refund? Leave a comment below with questions and comments.

Image by Images_of_Money

  1. Tim @ Faith and Finance

    We received our refund in about a week since we e-filed. The IRS has a chart that you can use to see when they’re going to be processing your refund.

  2. Kathleen K

    Our refund is delayed because we haven’t filed yet. 😉
    Gotta get to it this weekend!

  3. Eric

    We filed last week, the initial deposit estimate from the IRS was April 3rd or so. Now, we look and the estimate is in May.

  4. This is our first year using an accountant rather than doing it ourselves, and the process is frustrating. I like to get my refund as early as possible, but as the taxes haven’t been filed yet, that is not likely to happen. 🙁 I hope once it is filed there is no delays!

  5. manda Glidewell

    I filed my taxes on Feb 14th 2012, with Turbo Tax e-file. It is now March 26th and nothing! Hello IRS cant you call or send me something by mail stating if there is a problem. Ive checked on line, Ive called and all I get is the same run around. “We’re sorry we cant give you any information at this time” Are you serious?? I worked for this money. Any one with any answers or recomendations Ide appreciate it. Until they send me my refund I refuse to Vote.
    Manda G. Pa.

  6. James Mock

    I like Manda filed in early February. I used the electronic method this year since the IRS was soooo slow last year when I filed using mail in form. Well, this year is no better…..perhaps worse. I have called every federal number and the local office and can’t get ANY information about my return. Going to their webb site is a complete waste of time. I would love to know if they received it or not, but I can’t even find that information. Today is 3/28/12 and I don’t know whether to refile or not. My patience is at an all time low, and I have even notified my Senator about this dispicable situation. No word from him either.

  7. Nillic

    I filed on March 15 via e-file and I went to the IRS “Where’s my refund” site tonight. I got a message that there were “processing delays” and April 17 is my projected refund date. I don’t think that’s acceptable, but what am I going to do? After all, it’s the gubmit.

  8. joe

    the most common complaint ive heard is people blaming their tax card for the delay,not sure how far thats true

  9. carlovita

    I’ve file and my tax was accepted on march 2 and still im looking for my money and they tell you too go through all these website and all they doing is giving you run around i just want my money and all they saying is its processing so irs where is my refund

  10. Cheryl

    I e-filed my Federal taxes on Feb. 6th. My refund date on IRS “Where’s My Refund” changed three times and now says is being processed. Almost two months later, still on refund. 🙁

  11. james

    i filed in march and i stil havnt receive my refund it is now june 3rd and it stil say its being process