ASK KIM


Where’s My Refund?

Kimberly Lankford

Most people should expect to get their money three to six weeks after filing their return.



I filed my tax return a few weeks ago. When will I get my refund?

If you have filed -- or are about to file -- your tax return, you're probably wondering when that refund money is going to arrive. Most people will receive a big chunk of cash this year: The average refund for people who have filed so far is about $2,700, which is 11% higher than last year's figure.

You should expect to get your refund about six weeks after the IRS receives your paper return, or within three weeks after the acknowledgment date if you file electronically.

You can check the status of your refund by using the Where's My Refund? tool at www.irs.gov starting 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filing, or three to four weeks after mailing your paper return. You'll need to provide your Social Security number, filing status and the exact whole-dollar amount of your refund.

Remember, though, that the IRS never contacts people through e-mail requesting their personal information or bank-account details for direct deposit. If you receive such a message, it's a scam, no matter how legitimate it might look. See Watch Out for Stimulus Scams for more information about recent tax-related schemes by identity thieves and other scam artists.

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When you do get your refund, put it to good use so you can improve your long-term financial situation. See 5 Smart Uses for Your Tax Refund for more information.

Although getting a tax refund now might feel good, it means that you gave the government a tax-free loan for the year. Wouldn't you rather have more money in each paycheck -- especially in this economy? People who received the current average refund of $2,700 could have received an extra $225 per month in their paychecks if they had adjusted their withholding instead. For more information about adjusting your withholding and boosting your take-home pay, see Get Next Year's Refund Now. Then use our Updated 2009 Tax Withholding Calculator to figure out how many extra withholding allowances you may deserve.

And visit the Kiplinger Tax Center if you're still looking for last-minute tax-saving tips.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.




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