Tracking Refunds

Posted: Monday, January 20, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Already spent that refund? Wondering when you'll see the money? All you need is a computer or telephone to find out.

From your home computer, go to and type ''Where's My Refund?'' into the search box. You'll be directed to a secure Web page, where you'll need to type in your Social Security number, filing status and refund amount. Click on the ''requirements'' link to see if there are any special technical requirements for your Internet browser or server.

If you prefer a lower-tech approach, call the IRS' Automated Refund Service at 1 (800) 829-4477. Have a copy of your return, since you'll need to know the first Social Security number listed on your return, filing status and refund amount to the nearest whole dollar. The system operates 24 hours a day and is updated every seven days.

Refund information isn't available until about six weeks after you file a paper tax return, three weeks if you filed electronically.

Several problems can delay a refund: You changed your address after filing the return; a name listed on your tax return doesn't match the name on the government's Social Security records; you failed to sign the return or include essential attachments such as form W-2 or other schedules; your return has math or data entry errors.

If you have questions after receiving your refund, wait two weeks and call 1 (800) 829-1040.

Generally, a refund check is issued within six to eight weeks of filing a paper return, a week less if you told IRS to deposit the refund directly to your bank account. If you filed your return electronically, the refund could take three weeks, as little as two weeks if you chose direct deposit.

Can your refund be accidentally deposited into someone else's account? IRA says no. The account has to be in your name for the deposit to be successful.

If you lose your tax refund check call the IRS at 1 (800) 829-1040 for a replacement.


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