Everything about Tax refund

Writer and editor - Bryan Robinson | Updated on 2023-02-22

Tax refund process

It’s that time of the year again when you have to file your taxes. You may be dreading it, but it’s important to get it done. Once you’re finished, you may be wondering, “When will I get my tax refund?” The answer isn’t always cut and dry, but here’s a general overview of the tax refund process.

How to file for and get a tax refund

If you’ve paid more tax than you owe, you may be eligible for a refund. The tax refund process can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. By following a few simple steps, you can ensure that you receive the maximum refund possible. Here are the required steps:

  1. Check the requirements. You may only be eligible for a refund if you’ve overpaid your taxes, so check the requirements before you begin the process.
  2. Gather your documents. In order to file for a tax refund, you will need to have all of your tax documents in hand. This includes your W-2 form (s), 1099 form (s), and any other relevant paperwork.
  3. Fill out the necessary forms. The type of tax form you use will determine how you file for your refund. If you are using a paper return, you will need to fill out Form 1040 and mail it to the IRS. If you are using an electronic return, you can file using TurboTax, H&R Block, or another similar service. The forms you need will vary depending on your circumstances, but they may include Form 1040-EZ or Form 1040-A.
  4. Calculate your refund. Once you have all of your paperwork in order, it’s time to start calculating your refund. This can be done using a tax calculator or by hand if you prefer. Be sure to double-check your figures to ensure accuracy.
  5. File your return. Once you have calculated your expected refund amount, it’s time to file your return with the IRS. This can be done online, by mail, or in person at a local IRS office.
  6. Wait for your refund. The IRS typically processes refunds within eight weeks, though it may take longer if there are errors on your return or if you submitted it close to the tax deadline. You can check the status of your refund online or by calling the IRS directly.

How to track your tax refund

You’ve filed your tax return and are eagerly awaiting your refund. Here’s how to track the status of your federal tax refund.
The Internal Revenue Service issues most refunds in less than 21 days, although some refunds take longer. You can start checking the status of your refund within 24 hours after you have e-filed your return, or about four weeks after you mail a paper return.
Here are three ways to check on the status of your tax refund:

  • Visit the IRS Refund Tracking Tools page. You will need to enter your Social Security number, filing status and exact refund amount.
  • Call the IRS Refund Hotline at 1-800-829-1954. Be prepared to provide your Social Security number, filing status and exact refund amount. To check on the status of your state tax refund, visit your state’s tax website.
  • Download the IRS2Go app, which is available for free on Android and iOS devices. After you have installed the app, open it and select “Check Refund Status.” You will need to provide your Social Security number, filing status and exact refund amount.

Tax refund tips

A tax refund is when you get money back from the government because you paid too much tax. Here are a few tips to help you get the most money back from your tax refund.

How to maximize your tax refund

Here are a few tips to help you maximize your tax refund:

  1. Check your deductions. Make sure you’ve claimed all the deductions and credits you’re entitled to. This includes things like the home office deduction, the child care credit, and the earned income tax credit. A good tax professional can help ensure that you are taking advantage of all the deductions and credits you are eligible for.
  2. Make sure you are using the correct filing status. Your filing status can have a big impact on your tax refund. Make sure you are using the filing status that will give you the biggest refund.
  3. Make sure your withholding is correct. If you have too much money withheld from your paycheck, you will get a bigger tax refund when you file your return. However, if you have too little withheld, you may end up owing money to the IRS. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator to help make sure your withholding is correct.
  4. Check your math. A simple mistake can result in a smaller refund or even a bill from the IRS. So be sure to double-check your numbers before you file.
  5. Invest in a retirement account. If you invest in a retirement account such as an IRA or 401(k), you may be able to deduct some of your contributions from your taxes. This can lead to a bigger tax refund when you file your return.
  6. Donate to charity. Donating to charity can also lead to a bigger tax refund when done correctly. Be sure to keep records of any charitable donations made during the year so that you can claim them on your taxes

How to get your tax refund faster

Here are some tips to help you get your refund as quickly as possible:

  • File electronically. Filing your tax return electronically is the fastest way to get your refund. The IRS processes electronic returns much faster than paper returns.
  • Choose direct deposit. When you choose direct deposit for your refund, the IRS will deposit the money directly into your bank account. This is the quickest way to get your refund.
  • Check for errors. Make sure that you’ve entered all of your information correctly on your tax return before you file. If you make a mistake, it could delay your refund.
  • Watch out for scams. Be careful of scams where criminals pose as the IRS in order to try to steal your personal information or your tax refund. The IRS will never contact you by email, text message or social media to ask for personal information or for payment of a debt. If you get a suspicious email that claims to be from the IRS, do not reply – forward it to phishing@irs.gov instead.


Tax refund myths

If you’re expecting a tax refund this year, you’re not alone. In fact, the average refund was $2,869 in 2018, according to the IRS. But as you start planning what to do with your tax refund, beware of some common myths about refunds.

You will get audited if you get a tax refund

There is no truth to the rumor that you are more likely to be audited by the IRS if you receive a tax refund. In fact, the IRS does not even look at whether or not you receive a refund when they are selecting returns for audit. The decision to audit a return is based on many factors, including whether or not there are discrepancies between the information on your return and the information on your tax forms, whether or not you have a history of being audited, and whether or not you have made any errors on your return.

It could be better to owe the IRS than to get a tax refund

In general, it’s better to get a tax refund than to owe the IRS. That’s because when you get a refund, you’re essentially getting free money from the government. Owing money to the IRS, on the other hand, means that you’ve overpaid on your taxes and now you have to pay that money back.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if you know you’re going to owe a large amount of money to the IRS at tax time, it might be better to adjust your withholdings so you don’t get a refund. That way, you can use that money throughout the year instead of letting the IRS hold onto it interest-free.
It’s also worth noting that getting a large tax refund can sometimes be a sign that you’re not having enough taxes withheld from your paycheck. In this case, it might be better to adjust your withholdings so that you get less of a refund and more take-home pay each month.

You don’t need to file a tax return if you don’t get a tax refund

Many people believe that if they didn’t receive a tax refund, they don’t need to file their tax return. This is not true! Even if you didn’t get a tax refund, you may still need to file your return. The only way to know for sure is to use the IRS Taxpayer Refund Lookup tool or call the IRS directly.
There are a few reasons why you might not receive a tax refund even if you were expecting one. The most common reason is that your refund was offset against past-due federal or state taxes, child support, or student loans. If this is the case, you will receive a notice from the IRS explaining why your refund was offset and how to contact the agency to which your refund was applied.
Another reason you might not receive a tax refund is if you had too much money withheld from your paychecks during the year. When this happens, it simply means that you overpaid your taxes and don’t actually get a “refund” per se – instead, the excess amount withheld is applied to your next year’s taxes.
If you didn’t get a tax refund and think you should have, there are a few things you can do. First, check your math to make sure there were no mistakes on your return. If everything looks correct but you still think you should have received a refund, contact the IRS directly to speak to someone about your return.

Bryan Robinson

Bryan Robinson
Writer and editor

Bryan Robinson is a finance writer with expertise in lending and their interest rates, fees, contracts and more.
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