When you file your federal income tax return and you are due a refund, according to the IRS if you file a complete accurate return your refund will be issued within six weeks from the received date. If you file your return electronically and request a check, your refund will be issued within three weeks after the date acceptance of your return is acknowledged by the IRS.
Filing electronically and requesting direct deposit is the quickest way to get your refund. Although the IRS does not guarantee a specific date that the refund will be deposited in your account, it could be in about eight to ten days.
If there are errors on your tax return, or if the IRS has questions or selects your return for review, it could take longer to receive your refund. You can check on the status of your refund by using Where’s my refund? on the IRS website. According to the IRS, you should allow 72 hours after you file electronically, or three weeks after your mail your paper return before using Where’s my refund?
There are situations in which the IRS can hold your refund. This could be the case if you owe taxes from a prior year or if you are currently in an installment plan to pay back taxes. The IRS can hold your refund if you did not file a tax return for a prior year. In this case the IRS will send you a notice indicating that your refund is being held because you are delinquent in filing a return for a prior year. The IRS will hold your refund until you file the return or provide an acceptable explanation for not filing.
Offset against debts
The IRS can also offset your federal income tax refund against other debts you owe. These include past due child support, student loans, debts you owe to another federal agency, or past due and legally enforceable state income tax obligations. The IRS will send you a notice indicating that your refund is being offset against other debts you owe.
Injured spouse relief
If you filed a joint return and your refund is being held because your spouse owes past-due child support, spousal support, or a federal debt, you may qualify for injured spouse relief. By applying for this relief you can get a refund of your share of the refund that would otherwise be offset against your spouse’s debts.
According to the IRS, you qualify for injured spouse relief if you are not legally obligated to pay the past due amount and you either had federal income tax withheld from your pay or made estimated tax payments, you had earned income and claimed the earned income credit or the additional child credit, or you claimed a refundable credit such as the health coverage tax credit or a refundable credit for a prior year minimum tax.
To claim injured spouse relief, you must file Form 8379 – Injured Spouse Allocation. On this form you allocate the amounts reported on your joint return between you and your spouse to determine how much of the refund corresponds to you. The instructions indicate where you should send Form 8379, either with your joint return or after you file your return, either electronically or on paper.
According to the IRS, it takes about 14 weeks to process Form 8379 if you file it with a joint return on paper, and about 11 weeks if you file electronically. If you file Form 8379 by itself after you file your joint return, it takes about 8 weeks.
CP88 – Delinquent Return Refund Hold – IRS
Form 8379 – Injured Spouse Allocation – IRS
Instructions for Form 8379 – IRS
Topic 152 – Refund Information – IRS
Topic 203 – Refund Offsets: For Unpaid Child Support, And Certain Federal, State, and Unemployment Compensation Debts – IRS
Where’s my refund? – IRS