taxes

Tracking down your tax refund

There's an app for that

The IRS has gone mobile with IRS2Go, the agency's smartphone application. It allows taxpayers to check on the status of their tax refund.

Once again, you'll need your Social Security number, filing status and expected refund amount to use IRS2Go.

After you find out what's up with your refund, you can use the app to sign up for IRS tax updates or follow the IRS on Twitter.

The IRS refund tracking app also has a "contacts" section, with telephone numbers and hours for the agency's various tax help lines, as well as links to help you find your local taxpayer assistance center if you want some face-to-face help.

The IRS2Go app is free at the Apple App Store and the Android Market.

What's the holdup?

Regardless of which tracking method is used, the IRS says that in most cases a taxpayer will learn his or her return was received and is being processed.

When the tax check is indeed in the mail, the tracking systems will provide the date it was sent out or directly deposited to the filer's chosen account.

But even when the news is bad, the online program might be able to offer some immediate help. If, for example, the U.S. Postal Service bounced your refund check back to the IRS as undeliverable, the IRS online tracker now allows some taxpayers to correct or change their mailing addresses online so they can get their refunds ASAP.

If this option is available in your case, "Where's My Refund?" will prompt you to take the appropriate steps.

What if it's lost?

Occasionally, though, a tax check actually is lost.

If your online or automated phone inquiry reveals your refund was mailed but it still hasn't shown up, you can begin an online refund trace using the "Where's My Refund?" program. This option is available for filers who are still waiting for refund money the IRS says was mailed at least 28 days earlier. If this is your situation, the online program will prompt you to take the next steps.

You also can call the IRS' main help line at (800) 829-1040. But be forewarned: During the filing season, you're probably in for a wait.

More localized assistance might be a better move. Check the IRS' "How to Contact Us" Web page for local and regional agency addresses and numbers.

Once the IRS verifies your refund check is lost or stolen, the replacement process will begin. You might be asked to complete Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund, to get the ball rolling.

Check your bank account

The IRS has one final piece of advice for eager filers still looking for that refund: If you requested direct deposit, check your bank account regularly.

The IRS will simply transfer the money to your financial institution without sending you any other notification. It's up to you to find out if the tax refund is already in your account.

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