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How soon can I spend my Tax Refund?

By: Chuck Strauss

January 4, 2013

After you file your taxes, how soon can you spend the money from your refund? 

Well, there’s an old saying about, “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched…” and that is kind of pertinent here.

Last year, the “refund tool” on the IRS website would give an estimate of when the taxpayer’s refund might be processed, sent out or deposited.  However, a number of refunds didn’t come when the taxpayers expected them.  As a result, people were not able to spend the money they were due for several weeks beyond the time they really wanted to—for buying a new car or paying off credit card debt, and so on.

Also, due to the increase in fraud and identity theft, this year the IRS is increasing their fraud filters during the processing of all individual returns. This means that a larger number of returns will be reviewed, therefore processing will take longer and the refund will be sent out later for these returns. There is an article with important information about Identity Theft and its tax implications found here.

You can also get refund information using the IRS' new IRS2Go phone app or their website IRS.gov. Both are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Taxpayers can start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after IRS has received an e-filed return--or 4 weeks after a paper return has been mailed.

In addition to the new phone app, one of the results of last year’s experience with the “Where’s My Refund” tool is a new initiative from the IRS.  The new Where’s My Refund?  tool will provide an actual personalized refund date as soon as the IRS processes a tax return and approves the refund. So in a change from previous filing seasons, taxpayers won’t get an estimated refund date right away. Updates to refund status are made once a day—usually at night. You can use the improved tool to check the status of a refund

Click on this link: Where’s My Refund.     You’ll see that the page has a new look this year—it includes a tracker that displays progress through 3 stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved and (3) Refund Sent.  The site includes information for the most recent return filed in the current year but does not include information about amended returns.

PRO-TAX is an approved Authorized IRS e-file Provider and participates fully in the guidelines provided by the IRS—and voluntarily complies with the guidelines which help taxpayers understand the time frames for refunds – and other financial products. In other words, no provider of tax service is able to ethically offer a “faster refund by virtue of electronic filing” than PRO-TAX.