“Where Is My Tax Refund?” Answered Now

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

You’re probably just like me. After I’ve paid my taxes on time I want my tax refund ASAP. The good news is that the IRS is finally getting on track. If you want to get a speedy IRS tax refund, here is what you need to do:

1. E-File

I read recently that 80% of all the tax returns are filed electronically these days. If you use a CPA to do your taxes, make sure he or she e-files your returns because it will speed up your refund. According to the IRS website, you can check the status of your refund within 72 hours of them acknowledging they received it. If you file a paper return, you’ll have to wait three or four weeks.

2. Check the Status Online

There are a number of ways to get the status of your refund. The first way is to go to the IRS website. You’ll be asked for your Social Security Number, filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund. Once you input that information, the IRS computer will tell you the status of your refund check.

3. Check the Status on Your Cell Phone

There are now apps for your iPhone and Android phones created by the IRS to help you check the status. (In my opinion, if you can’t wait to get to your laptop or desktop to check on your refund, you’ve got other issues we need to talk about.)

4. Call the IRS

You can use your phone (cell or landline). Call the IRS 1-800-829-4477 (24 hours a day, seven days a week for automated refund information) or 1-800-829-1954 to talk to a real human being.

5. Pretend It’s Your Birthday

You could always wait patiently for Uncle Sam to send you a check. That’s very old-fashioned, I know, but it does add a little excitement to your day as you mosey on down to the mailbox. Wondering. Hoping. Maybe…today is your day!

What I want to know is, why do you care about the IRS tax refund schedule so much? Are you counting on that money to pay a debt? Have you earmarked those funds for travel? What frightens me is that people who are hyped up about their refunds typically have short-term plans for the money. And that leads me to think they haven’t done as much long-term planning as they should. I could be wrong of course. I’m just sharing my experience. Maybe you don’t really need that tax refund. Maybe what you really need to get busy with is tracking your spending or getting a high-paying second job so you won’t be so hyped about getting your paws on that cash.

Use this opportunity to ask yourself why it’s so important to you to get your hands on that money so quickly. If it’s for the wrong reasons, make this the year that you fix the problem. Put a budgeting system into place. Don’t blow your refund on something extravagant if you haven’t put enough aside for your future. So, once you get your check, what are you going to do with your tax refund? Here’s what I’m going to do with my tax refund.


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