Before you ask for a trace
If you asked for a direct deposit refund, double check the bank account information you provided to the IRS to be sure there were no mistakes on the return. The IRS assumes no responsibility for errors by you or your preparer. You should also check with your financial institution to make sure the mistake hasn't been at their end.
The PATH Act made the following changes, which became effective for the 2016 filing season, to help prevent revenue loss due to identity theft and refund fraud related to fabricated wages and withholdings:
- The IRS may not issue a credit or refund to a taxpayer before February 15th, if the taxpayer claims the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on their return.
- This change only affects returns claiming EITC or ACTC that are filed before February 15.
- The IRS will hold the entire refund, including any part of the refund that isn't associated with the EITC or ACTC.
- Neither TAS, nor the IRS, can release any part of the refund before that date, even if you are experiencing a financial hardship.
When can I ask the IRS to trace my refund?
Direct deposit: The IRS generally direct deposits refunds within 21 days after receiving your tax return. If you don’t receive your deposit within five days after the 21 days have passed, you can request a refund trace.
Paper check: If you don’t receive your check within six weeks of mailing your return, you can request a refund trace.
If you signed up for a Refund Anticipation Loan or Refund Anticipation Check, you should contact the financial institution that issued the loan or check.
Once you've determined that your refund is really missing, you can ask the IRS to trace the refund.
If your filing status is single, married filing separate, or head of household:
- Call the IRS Refund Hotline toll-free at 1-800-829-1954 and use the automated system or speak with an employee, or
- Go to "Where's My Refund?" at IRS.gov or the IRS2Go mobile app and follow the prompts to begin a trace once you indicate you haven’t received your refund.
If your filing status is married filing jointly, you need to complete IRS Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund, and mail it to the IRS service center where you would normally file a paper tax return.