Being professionals, we all know how to give our clients the most accurate, best-case-scenario income tax return. But what happens after we send that return? Do you find yourself fielding call after call, asking you to find out the status of a taxpayer’s refund?
You can take yourself out of that loop with a few tools that we’re glad to share.
The Internal Revenue Service has established its Where’s My Refund? website that can give personalized refund information to taxpayers. The website is available 24 hours a day, every day. The status of a return can be checked 24 hours after it is received by the IRS (4 weeks after mailing if the return is paper-filed).
The site includes a tracker that shows a return’s progress through three stages:
- Return Received
- Return Approved
- Refund Sent
In order to use the site, your clients have to provide their Social Security number, filing status, and the exact, whole-dollar amount of their refund in order to verify their identity.
Your clients who prefer to use their smartphone or tablet can make use of the IRS2Go app to access the same tracking feature. And like the Where’s My Refund? site, IRS2Go never closes. The app is available for free from a variety of locations, including Apple’s App Store, Google Play, and on Amazon.com.
Using either one of these two methods can save taxpayers a call to the IRS – or to you. And it gives them information that even the IRS operators don’t have. The agency’s employees who field phone calls and walk-in customers can only access the status of refunds 21 days or more after the returns were filed (or six weeks in the case of paper returns).
Your Mileage May Vary
The 2017 filing season will be a different kind season from years past due to a number of factors. But chief among them is the delay imposed for refunds from returns claiming either the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). If a return claims either of these credits, the IRS cannot release the refund any sooner than Feb. 15.
This delay, which gives the IRS time to verify the taxpayer’s information, was set down in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015. The IRS says it’s unlikely any early return that claims either of these two credits will have a refund posted to the taxpayers’ accounts before the week of Feb. 27.
There are other cases that can lead to a big delay in taxpayer refunds. The biggest delay comes from returns that include Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation. The IRS says those returns could take up to 14 weeks to process.
In general, an accurate, e-filed return wins the race.
Source: Internal Revenue Service