Tax Refund: Frequently Asked Questions

I received a refund that is more than I should have received because I've discovered I made a mistake on my return. I have not yet cashed this check. What should I do now?
Many mistakes are corrected in processing and a letter of explanation is mailed at the time the refund is issued. If the mistake was not corrected in processing, you need to file an amended or corrected return using Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, as soon as possible. Include copies of any schedules that have been changed or any Forms W-2 you did not include. If you return the refund check with a letter of explanation, a refund in the correct amount will be issued when the amended return processes.

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How can I check the status of my amended return?
You will need to contact our assistance line at (800) 829-1040 to receive information on the processing of your amended return. Amended/corrected returns are processed as quickly as possible. However, it could take 8 to 12 weeks to process an amended return.

If I call the automated tax line to check the status of a refund on an amended return, do I enter the total amount of my original refund, or only the amended amount?
You cannot check the status of a refund for an amended return on the automated tax line. Amended/corrected returns are processed as quickly as possible. However, it may take 8 to 12 weeks or longer to process the return. If 8 weeks have elapsed and you have not received your refund, call (800) 829-1040.

My ex-spouse is delinquent in paying child support. The attorney general has filed some sort of paperwork with the IRS to withhold my ex-spouse's tax refund. How would I receive the withheld refund?
The answer is different for each state. Contact your state office

Is there any way to find out if I need to file an injured spouse claim before I file a return?
Your spouse can ask the agency that might be claiming the refund for a past-due debt. Another source of information is the Financial Management Service Help Desk at (800) 304-3107.

How long does it take after you've filed to receive a refund?
Processing time for refund returns depends on the method used for filing. If you e-file opting for direct deposit and have not received your refund within 3 weeks after filing your return (eight weeks if you filed a paper return opting for a paper check), you can check your refund status by clicking on "Where's My Refund" then go to "Get My Refund Status" (after inputting the required data). Or, you can call the Refund Hotline at (800) 829-1954. Be sure to have available a copy of your current tax return because you will need to know your social security number shown on your return, the filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund. If you have requested direct deposit, the refund should take one week less time to be issued as opposed to getting a paper check.

How can I check on the status of my refund?
Refund information does not become available until it has been 6 weeks since you filed your tax return (3 weeks if you filed electronically or through TeleFile). After waiting the appropriate number of weeks, the fastest, easiest way to find out about your current year refund is to log onto www.irs.gov. Click on Where's My Refund then go to Get My Refund Status or you can call Refund Hotline at (800) 829-1954.

Be sure to have a copy of your current tax return available because you will need to know your social security number shown on your return, the filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of our refund. The IRS updates refund information every seven days.

Can my refund be used to pay other debts?
Under the law, state and Federal agencies refer to the IRS the names of taxpayers who are behind in their support payments, taxes, and loans. Your tax refund may not be refunded to you if you are delinquent in child or child and spousal support payments, have a past due Federal debt (such as a student loan), or owe state income taxes. Therefore, your refund will be used to pay other debts you owe.

Can a person receive a tax refund if they are currently in a payment plan for prior year's federal taxes?
As a condition of your agreement, any refund due you in a future year will be applied against the amount you owe. Therefore, you may not get all of your refund if you owe certain past-due amounts, such as federal tax, state tax, a student loan, or child support. The IRS will automatically apply the refund to the taxes owed. If the refund does not take care of the tax debt; you must continue the installment agreement.

I lost my refund check. How do I get a new one?
Call the IRS at (800) 829-1954. If your refund check has not been cashed, we can normally provide a replacement within six to eight weeks. If your refund check has been cashed, the Financial Management Service (FMS) will provide a copy of the check and a Form 3911 (PDF) Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund, to initiate a claim. The signature on the cancelled check will be reviewed before determining whether another refund can be issued.

Is it possible to find out if a federal tax refund check has been cashed?
If you need to know whether a federal tax refund check that was issued to you has been cashed, you can call (800) 829-1954 and request Form 3911 (PDF), Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund.

If you are inquiring about a check that was issued to someone other than yourself, the IRS is not allowed under the Privacy Act of 1974 to disclose any information.

I received a Form 1099-G, for my state tax refund. Do I have to include this amount as income on my return?
If you did not itemize your deductions on your Federal tax return for the same year as the state or local tax refund applies to, do not report any of the refund as income.

If you itemized deductions on your Federal tax return for 2003, and received a refund of state or local taxes in 2004, you may have to include all or part of the refund as income on your 2004 tax return. Report your taxable State or Local Refunds on Form 1040, Line 10. You cannot use Form 1040A or 1040EZ.

Courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service. www.irs.gov