I don't have my refund

What should I do?

You were expecting a tax refund, but it hasn’t arrived. There are a number of reasons why a refund could be delayed or not delivered.

First, check your refund status

It’s helpful to know the official status of your refund. Here’s how to find out: 

See Locating a Refund for more details.

Once you know your official status, you can narrow down what might have happened.

Has the refund been sent, but you haven’t received it?

Did you have your refund sent as a check?

It’s possible that it was lost in the mail or stolen. Either way, you’ll need to report the missing check and have the IRS start a trace. Learn more about tracing a refund in Lost or Stolen Refunds.

Once it determines the check was lost or stolen, the IRS will let you know how to proceed.

Was your refund supposed to go directly to your bank account?

There are a few things that could have happened:

  • The bank account information you put on your return was incorrect.
    • The IRS is not responsible if you made an error on your return. You’ll need to contact your bank or credit union to find out what to do.
    • If you already contacted your bank or credit union and got no results, file IRS Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund with the IRS.  The IRS will contact the institution and try to help, but the IRS cannot require the bank or credit union to return the funds.
  • The deposit information was changed after you approved your return. 

Is the IRS holding on to your money?

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 you before February 15th, if you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on your tax return.
  • This change only affects returns claiming EITC or ACTC filed before February 15.
  • The IRS will hold your entire refund, including any part of your refund not associated with the EITC or ACTC.
  • Neither TAS, nor the IRS, can release any part of your refund before that date, even if you're experiencing a financial hardship.

The IRS may be reviewing items on your tax return. See Held or Stopped Refunds for more information.

If you have a financial hardship and need the refund immediately, see Expediting a Refund for available options.

Your refund may have been offset  – where the IRS uses your refund to pay down a tax debt, or other debt such as a student loan or child support — and you haven’t been notified of that action yet.

If you believe you are entitled to all or part of the refund because your spouse is solely responsible for the debt, you may be able to claim that you are an Injured Spouse.

Were you told that you already filed your tax return and received a refund?

You may be a victim of Identity Theft — a common scam is for someone else to use your personal information to file a tax return and steal your refund.

Did you get a refund and it was less than you expected?  Or when you checked the status of a refund, it said no return was received?

You may want to request a transcript of your tax account to see what happened. The IRS may have changed an amount on your return during processing, but for some reason you didn’t get a notice, or maybe the return never even made it to the IRS. A transcript of your account will have information about the receipt and processing of your return.

Have you tried to get your refund, and now are having financial hardship?

If you have tried to get your refund with the IRS, and not having the money is causing you a financial hardship, the Taxpayer Advocate Service may be able to help.

If none of these seem to fit…

If you still aren’t sure what happened with your refund, contact an IRS representative at IRS Tax Help Line for Individuals - 1-800-829-1040 (TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059).

Browse common tax issues and situations at Get Help.

If your IRS problem is causing you financial hardship, you've tried repeatedly and aren't receiving a response from the IRS, or you feel your taxpayer rights aren't being respected, consider contacting the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).

You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), or enrolled agent (EA) associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). LITCs also provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language.

Last modified March 20, 2018