Tax Preparation Help  
Tax Topic #152 2008 Tax Year

Topic 152 - Refund Information

You have two options for receiving your individual federal income tax refund: a paper check or a direct deposit (electronic funds transfer). You may use Form 8888, Direct Deposit of Refund to More Than One Account, to request that your refund be allocated by direct deposit among up to three separate accounts, such as checking or savings or retirement accounts.

Your name must be on each of the accounts. The deposit to each account must be $1.00 or more. Filing Form 8888 prevents choosing to get any part of the refund by check. Filing Form 8379 (PDF), Injured Spouse Allocation, prevents allocating the refund among multiple accounts. Check with the financial institution(s) to make sure each deposit will be accepted, and to get the correct routing and account numbers.

If you file a complete accurate tax return, your refund will be issued within six weeks from the received date. If you filed electronically, refund checks will be issued within three weeks after the acknowledgment date. Refunds from amended returns will be issued within 8–12 weeks. Injured spouse claims can take longer, depending on the circumstances. Refer to Topic 203 for more information concerning Injured Spouse Claims.

To check on your refund, go to "Where's My Refund" or call the Refund Hotline at (800) 829-1954. Please allow 4 weeks after you mail your return before calling this automated system. When you call, you will need to provide your Social Security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of the refund shown on your return. There are several reasons for delayed refunds. Refer to Topic 303 for a checklist of common errors when preparing your tax return, and for additional items that may delay the processing of your return.

If you receive a refund to which you are not entitled, or one for an amount that is more than you expected, do not cash the check until you receive a notice explaining the difference. Follow the instructions on the notice.

On the other hand, if you receive a refund for a smaller amount than you expected, you may cash the check, and, if it is determined that you should have received more, you will later receive a check for the difference. If you did not receive a notice and you have questions about the amount of your refund, wait two weeks after receiving the refund, then call 1-800-829-1040.

The IRS will assist you in obtaining a replacement check for a refund check that is verified as lost or stolen.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: December 22, 2008

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