Tax refunds are a commonly used device by which the American government assures taxpayers that the amount they are providing to the government per tax obligations is no greater than necessary. The development of the Internet and related electronic means for delivering and storing information has increased the usefulness of the American tax refund system as a whole and added to the speed with which it can function.
As a component of the new features which are now provided to American taxpayers seeking to use tax refunds to ease their financial burdens, it is now commonly possible to check one’s tax refund status online, both on a federal and a state level. People who do not have access to a computer or to Internet connectivity will also commonly be able to make use of other options such as calling toll-free numbers. Many though not all state governments maintain either a website, a telephone service, or both through which taxpayers can make inquiries about their state tax refund status.
The IRS allows people to check their tax refund status through its website. This service is called “Where’s My Refund?” The speed with which tax refund status is made available online depends on the form in which it was received. The tax refund status of an application made on paper can be expected within three or four weeks. Electronic documentation greatly accelerates the process, allowing for the applicable taxpayer to check tax refund status within only seventy-two hours of the initial filing.
The same period of time can also be expected for state tax refund status inquiries. The IRS therefore asks that people wait the relevant period of time before checking their status, whether online or off, in order to ease the burden placed on the system. The information which the IRS requests of taxpayers using the online system, as is also generally the case for taxpayers checking their state tax refund status, will include the amount of money requested, which the taxpayer should memorize exactly, the taxpayer’s Social Security Number or any other identification number used to apply for the refund, and the filing status of the applicant, as refers to her or his family situation.
In the event that a tax refund application was made incorrectly, the Where’s My Refund site allows for limited corrections to this information, in the form of the applicant’s address. The taxpayer can determine the need for this change through examining the tax refund status information provided on the site.
Taxpayers should not necessarily assume that their state will provide for the same function to be performed in relation to their state tax refund status. The other information provided by Where’s My Refund, and generally offered through state tax refund status sources, is the verification that the IRS did receive and process the initial application to establish the taxpayer’s eligibility for a refund and the date on which the tax refund, once it has been accepted by the IRS as being due to the taxpayer, is mailed to him or her.