Here’s how to track the status of your 2024 tax refund

More than 30 million Americans waited until the last two weeks of the tax-filing season to send their returns to the IRS. Many of them may now be wondering how long it will take for their refunds to hit their bank accounts.

It’s not a small financial issue, as tax refunds often represent many households’ largest check throughout the year, helping families pay down debt, build up emergency savings or even splurge on purchases. The average 2024 tax refund is 3.8% higher than a year ago, at $2,948, according to the latest IRS data.

More than 30 Million Americans File Taxes in the Last Two Weeks: What This Means for Refunds

As the tax-filing deadline loomed, more than 30 million Americans rushed to send their returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the final two weeks of the season. Now, many of them are eagerly awaiting their tax refunds, a significant financial windfall that can greatly impact their yearly budget.

The Financial Significance of Tax Refunds

For many households, the annual tax refund is not just a mere financial return but often the largest check they receive throughout the year. This money can be crucial in helping families manage their finances, whether it’s paying down debt, bolstering emergency savings, or even indulging in some long-awaited purchases. According to the latest IRS data, the average 2024 tax refund is $2,948, which is a 3.8% increase from the previous year.

Tracking Your Tax Refund

Given the importance of these refunds, it’s no surprise that many taxpayers are anxious to know when their money will arrive. Fortunately, the IRS offers several tools to help track the status of refunds. The “Where’s My Refund?” website and the IRS2Go mobile app are two of the most convenient options. These tools have been improved for the current tax season, providing more detailed responses to user queries, which should help ease the waiting period for many.

Expert Insights on Tax Refunds

Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at Bankrate, highlights the considerable impact that these refunds can have. “This is the largest windfall that many people get all year,” he told CBS New York. Despite this, Rossman advises against relying on a tax refund as a financial strategy. “It’s actually not a great practice to get a tax refund — it’s better to adjust your withholding so you get your money in bits and pieces throughout the year,” he noted.

The Forced Savings Plan Argument

Despite Rossman’s advice, many people prefer receiving a lump sum refund. For them, the tax refund acts as a forced savings plan, ensuring they receive one large check annually. This sum can then be utilized effectively, whether it’s to pay off debt, make a significant purchase, or invest in their future.

The Process of Getting a Refund

After filing taxes, the waiting game begins. Here’s a brief outline of what happens once your tax return is submitted:

  1. Submission and Acknowledgment: After you file your tax return, the IRS acknowledges receipt. If you e-filed, this usually happens within 24 hours. For paper returns, it can take up to four weeks.
  2. Processing: The IRS begins processing your return. During this phase, they verify the information provided and calculate your refund. If there are any issues, such as missing information or discrepancies, the process could be delayed.
  3. Refund Approved: Once the IRS has processed your return, they approve the refund. At this stage, the status on “Where’s My Refund?” will change to “Approved.”
  4. Refund Sent: Finally, the IRS sends your refund. If you opted for direct deposit, it typically takes a few more days to appear in your bank account. For those receiving a paper check, it can take several weeks.

Factors Affecting Refund Delays

While the IRS works to process returns as efficiently as possible, several factors can cause delays:

  • Errors on the Tax Return: Mistakes or incomplete information can slow down processing.
  • Identity Verification: If there are issues verifying your identity, the IRS may require additional information.
  • Review and Adjustments: Some returns are selected for further review, which can extend the waiting period.
  • Tax Law Changes: Changes in tax laws can also impact processing times, as the IRS may need additional time to implement new regulations.

Conclusion

For the millions of Americans who waited until the last two weeks to file their taxes, the anticipation of their refund is now at the forefront of their minds. While the process can take time, tools like “Where’s My Refund?” and the IRS2Go app provide valuable assistance in tracking the status of refunds. Understanding the process and potential delays can help manage expectations and reduce anxiety during the waiting period.

In summary, while some experts like Ted Rossman advise against depending on a lump sum tax refund, preferring adjustments to withholdings throughout the year, many taxpayers find comfort and financial utility in receiving a substantial annual check. Whether used to pay down debt, save for emergencies, or make a major purchase, these refunds play a vital role in the financial lives of many Americans.

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