You took the time to figure out your withholding and you know you have money coming back, so you filed early. Now, where is that refund check?
Your options are to wait by your mailbox every day – or find less boring and more satisfying ways to locate your IRS cash. Here are a few ways of how to track your tax refund:

If you file electronically, you will likely look for your refund status online, but you can also call a special toll-free number or even use your iPhone or Android to check your refund status. These tracking options work whether you’re waiting on a check in the mail or waiting for a direct deposit into your bank account.

Hurry Up and Wait

The IRS has offered its “Where’s My Refund?” Web page since 2005. It allows taxpayers to track down their refunds online using their home computer.

But when, exactly, does this service become relevant for you? It depends on how you filed your tax return. The IRS can pinpoint the status of your refund within 24 hours if the agency has received your tax return via e-file. If you’re still “kicking it old school” and mail your return, it won’t be trackable until four weeks after you mailed the forms.

If you mailed your forms and you are calling, trying to find out where your refund is in the tax refund process, keep in mind the IRS is running at high demand and recent government cuts have scaled back the number of IRS representatives, so don’t call too early or too often.

The IRS says refunds are routinely issued within 21 days after they receive your tax return. Make it a point not to call earlier than three weeks. As always, the best times to call are evenings and weekends. Also, there’s no reason to call more than once a day since the system is updated just once every 24 hours.

That being said, if you’ve waited more than three weeks and you’re still waiting for your money, it’s time to go digital and locate your refund.

Data You Need

First and foremost, you’ll need your Social Security number, your filing status and the amount of the refund you’re expecting. If you file a joint return, enter the name and tax ID number of the spouse listed first on the return.

The tracking program will require a precise dollar (and cents) amount, so do not round up or down on the amount.

Again, the easiest and fastest way to file is electronically. And, the easiest and fastest way to track your refund is to use the IRS’s “Where’s My Refund?” program. It’s simple to use and quite intuitive. The app has links that open up new screens with shortcuts to the information on your tax return.

Simply follow the on screen instructions and the app will display the status of your return (Hopefully it’s the best news: “Your check is in the mail”. The IRS has posted that this link will be down for servicing until January 5th 2015.

The Land Line

If you don’t own a computer and don’t know how to track your tax refund, you can call the IRS to track down your refund.

The IRS operates a special, automated toll-free line at (800) 829-1954, dedicated to refund status queries. But remember, whether you call or go online, you’ll need your Social Security number, your filing status and the amount of the refund you’re expecting. You should have a copy of your return handy, plus paper and a pen so you can jot down any information, instructions or follow-up phone numbers that you receive during the call.

Again, as with the online system, don’t call unless it’s been at least three weeks since you filed.

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