Missing your tax refund? You might need a Refund Trace!
Is the IRS saying they mailed your refund to you or deposited it into a bank account, but you haven’t got it yet? Generally, if you claim a refund on your tax return, the IRS will direct deposit it into the bank account that you provide on the return.
If you don’t provide a bank account on the return, or if the IRS tries to deposit the refund into that account and the bank rejects it, the IRS will mail a check to the address that you use on the tax return.
You can use the IRS' Where’s My Refund (https://www.irs.gov/refunds) to see the status of your refund for the years 2019, 2020, and 2021.
Not everyone gets the refund that the IRS sends to them. With direct deposits, sometimes taxpayers, or their tax preparers, make mistakes entering the account information into the return, and the refund gets deposited into someone else’s bank account. Sometimes tax preparers use their own bank accounts on their clients’ returns in order to take their fees out of the client’s refund. With stimulus payments, we’ve seen a lot of cases where the IRS has deposited a taxpayer’s stimulus payment into the account of an ID thief who fraudulently filed a return in the taxpayer’s name.
With paper checks, if the taxpayer has moved after filing the tax return and hasn’t updated their address with the IRS (or put a change of address in with the post office), the check could be sent to the old address. Sometimes taxpayers, or their preparers, leave off apartment numbers from the taxpayer’s address or make other typos that prevent the post office from delivering the check to the taxpayer. There are also cases where, even if the IRS does mail the check to the right address, a thief may steal the check out of the taxpayer’s mailbox. Sometimes mail just gets lost, both before and after getting delivered.
In all of these situations, where the IRS says that it has issued the refund, but you haven’t gotten it, it is a good idea to request a Refund Trace. When you request a Refund Trace, the IRS will tell you what bank account the refund was deposited into, or, if a paper check was mailed, it will tell you if the check was cashed or not. If the check wasn’t cashed, they’ll cancel it and send you a new check. If the check was cashed, they’ll send you a copy of the signed check so you can see if the signature matches yours or not.
A Refund Trace won’t solve every problem, but it is a good place to start, and it can never hurt trying.
You can request a Refund Trace by calling 800-829-1954 or, in some cases you have to file a Form 3911. Here is some more information: https://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/get-help/refunds/lost-or-stolen-refund/ & https://www.irs.gov/faqs/irs-procedures/refund-inquiries/refund-inquiries-2
If the IRS says they issued your refund, but you haven’t gotten it and you aren’t able to get it by requesting a Refund Trace, call us to see if we can help!