If You’re Expecting a Refund, Read This
The end of tax season is approaching and if you’re getting a refund, here are four useful tips to know.
- The average refund is more than $2,000. About three-fourths of Americans get a refund from the IRS every year, and the average check last year was $2,895. Since a refund is really your money, it’s like giving the federal government an interest-free loan every year.
Tip: If you’re getting a big refund this year due to overpayment of tax, it may be worth adjusting your withholdings to eliminate overpayment for 2018. Just remember to adjust for new tax law changes.
- Most refunds arrive within three weeks. The IRS says it issues nine of 10 refunds within 21 days. However, electronically filed returns will usually get a refund faster than those filed by paper in the mail.
Tip: You can start checking on the status of your refund within 24 hours after you’ve filed an electronic return, or four weeks if you filed a paper return. Go to https://www.irs.gov/refunds.
- Sometimes refunds are wrong. If your refund isn’t what you expected, there could be multiple reasons why. There could be a typo or calculation error, or the IRS may have disallowed some deductions or credits. If you owe other debts to the government, they may have these debts garnished from your refund check.
Tip: If your refund amount is different than the amount on your tax return, try to understand why this is the case before you cash the check. Follow up with the IRS for an explanation about the missing amount. Amounts cashed that are larger than you expect can actually cause problems if the IRS expects repayment.
- Con artists prey on refund checks. Year after year, IRS scams are among the most commonly reported frauds. Con artists call unsuspecting taxpayers and claim to be from the IRS. They say that the taxpayers owe money or that a refund was issued in error and demand immediate payment.
Tip: An IRS agent will never call a taxpayer over the phone without sending an official letter first, and will neither threaten a taxpayer nor demand immediate payment. They’ll never ask for credit card or debit card numbers over the phone. If you are contacted by a suspected scammer, report it to the IRS at 800-366-4484.