Don't Expect Your Tax Refund Anytime Soon if You've Made Any of These 3 Mistakes

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  • Errors in your tax return can lead to tax refund delays.
  • Filing electronically can speed up the process considerably.

It's not always the IRS's fault.

Filing taxes is never fun, but most people have a refund check to look forward to at the end of it. However, when you get that refund depends in part on what you did when you filed your taxes. If you've made any of the following three mistakes, you may have a long wait ahead of you.

1. Making an error on your tax return

The IRS screens tax returns to check for errors, and if it finds one, it will notify you by mail and request that you correct it. This can take additional time and delay your tax refund.

There are a lot of errors that could cause this type of issue. Listing your income incorrectly on your tax return or failing to fill out all the necessary tax forms are some of the common ones. And if you transpose a few digits in your Social Security number, that can also cause problems.

2. Listing the wrong bank account number

Most people receive their refunds by direct deposit these days. This is where the IRS deposits the funds directly into a bank account that you specify. You'll need to provide the routing number, which indicates which bank you want the money sent to, and the account number, which tells the IRS the specific account within that bank to send the funds to.

If you accidentally listed the wrong account number, there's a chance you may not get your refund at all. It could go to another person's bank account and there may not be anything you can do about it. However, you might be able to stop the direct deposit by reaching out to the IRS as soon as possible.

If the account number you listed was invalid, the IRS will send you a paper refund check instead. This will take longer to get to you, but at least you won't have to worry about it going to someone else.

3. Filing a paper return

It takes longer for the IRS to process paper returns than e-filed returns. It can take up to eight weeks to get a paper refund check after filing a paper return. By contrast, you can have your refund in less than three weeks if you file electronically and request your refund be direct-deposited.

If you've already submitted a paper return this year, there's not much you can do other than wait. But in the future, you may want to consider filing electronically so you can get your refund more quickly.

When will you get your refund?

The IRS has a Where's My Refund? tool to help you check the status of your tax refund after you've submitted your return. In order to use this, you'll need to know:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your tax filing status for the return in question
  • The exact refund amount

You can begin tracking your return as soon as 24 hours after an e-filed return and four weeks after a mailed return. The IRS updates the system daily.

Don't reach out to the IRS unless it's been more than 21 days since you've e-filed your return, the Where's My Refund? tool instructs you to contact the IRS, or you receive something in the mail from the IRS. Don't respond to texts, emails, or calls purporting to be from the government. It won't reach out to you this way and it's likely a scammer trying to get hold of your refund check.

No one likes waiting on their tax refund check, so keep the above mistakes in mind for the next time you file taxes. Whenever possible, file early and electronically so you can get your refund quickly.

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