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Learn How to Track Your Tax Refund and Get Your Money Faster!
If you want to learn how to track your federal income tax refund or just want to expedite the process, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans want to know how to track their refund after filing their taxes and if anything can be done to receive their refund sooner.
Most federal tax refunds are issued within 21 days of filing. How quickly you receive your refund depends on many factors, including how you file and if you request a direct deposit. Additionally, it’s important to know how to track both your federal and state refunds (if your state collects income tax), each of which has different timeframes.
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You can use the tips provided in this guide to help you learn how to track the status of your federal and state tax refunds and learn how you can get your money faster in the future.
How to Track Your Federal Tax Refund
Tracking the status of your federal tax refund is generally a bit easier than tracking your state refund. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has an easy-to-use online accessible on its website, appropriately titled “Where’s My Refund?”
Alternatively, you can download the IRS mobile app, IRS2go, and track your refund there. It uses the same technology as the website, allowing you to quickly learn the status of your money.
Before you can use this federal tracking tool, you will need three key pieces of information:
- Your filing status
- Your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
- Your exact refund amount
According to the IRS website, federal tax refund statuses are updated once per day, typically late at night. Usually, the IRS updates your refund status within 24 hours of receiving your electronically filed return. However, it may take up to four weeks for you to track your refund status if you filed your federal income tax return by mail.
What if You Claimed the Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit?
It’s worth noting that if you claim the Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit, you may have to wait a bit longer to receive your refund. In fact, the IRS does not issue any tax refunds that claim these credits before mid-February due to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act.
How to Track Your State Tax Refund
You cannot track your state income tax refund using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on the IRS website. Instead, you will need to use a tax refund tracker managed by your state, or call your state’s revenue department to check the status of your refund.
States Without Income Tax
The following states do not collect income tax. If you live in any of these states and do not earn money in another state, you will not receive a state tax refund:
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
Do I Need to File More Than One State Tax Return?
In some cases, you may need to file a tax return for more than one state. However, federal law prohibits two states from taxing the same income.
You may be required to file multiple returns if any of the following situations apply:
- You moved to another state during the last tax year
- You worked in two or more states during the same tax year
- You work in a state different from the one you live in
- This may not apply if you work remotely for a business located in a different state
If you work in one state and live in another, you may need to file two different state tax returns, depending on those specific states. There are 16 states that currently have reciprocal tax agreements. These agreements allow workers to live and work in different states and file tax returns in both states, so long as the worker’s employer submits the appropriate documentation and all rules are followed.
The following states have reciprocal state agreements:
- Arizona: California, Indiana, Oregon, and Virginia
- Washington D.C: Washington D.C. does not require non-resident workers to file a state return
- Illinois: Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, and Wisconsin
- Indiana: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin
- Iowa: Illinois
- Kentucky: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin
- Maryland: Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington D.C.
- Michigan: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin
- Minnesota: Michigan and North Dakota
- Montana: North Dakota
- New Jersey: Pennsylvania
- North Dakota: Minnesota and Montana
- Ohio: Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia
- Pennsylvania: Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia
- Virginia: Kentucky and Maryland
- Virginia: Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.
- West Virginia: Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia
- Wisconsin: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan
4 Things That Can Help Expedite Your Tax Refund
Who wouldn’t want their tax refund faster? Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to help yourself get your tax refund faster.
1. File Electronically
Avoid filing your federal income tax return by mail. Paper tax returns take a notoriously long amount of time. In fact, it can take the IRS an average of six to eight weeks to process these returns. Plus, it can take longer for you to be able to track your refund status online.
2. Choose Direct Deposit
When you file your federal income tax return, you designate the method you’d like to use to receive your tax refund. You can choose between direct deposit or a paper check through the mail. Requesting your tax refund via direct deposit can substantially reduce the time it takes to get your refund.
3. Start Tracking Your Refund Right Away
The IRS provides a free online tool you can use to get the status of your tax refund. Of course, how soon your information is imputed into the system depends on if you filed your return electronically or by mail. Additionally, most tax software and services can help you track both your state and federal refunds after you’ve filed your return.
4. Missing Your Refund? Contact the IRS Right Away
Unless you filed your tax return by mail or you have to wait longer because of claimed tax credits, you should receive your tax refund within 21 days of filing electronically. If you filed a paper return, you can expect to receive your tax refund within six weeks.
If you do not receive your tax refund within this time period, it’s important to contact the IRS or your state revenue service right away. While doing so won’t expedite your refund, it can help you correct any mistakes that were made, get a status update, and avoid an even longer wait.