Nothing more frustrating than waiting for your refund and tax credit payments for weeks, even months, only to discover that the money is missing or stolen. The most pressing question for taxpayers in these cases is whether they can get their checks replaced and how to track the money.
You can always check the status of your payment using the Where’s My Refund? tool. on IRS.gov or the IRS2Go mobile app. The system updates no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight.
If the platform indicates that the IRS issued your refund, but you haven’t received it, your money may have been lost or stolen.
MISSING REFUND IN CASE OF DIRECT DEPOSIT
If this is the case, you can ask the IRS to track the refund. Here we explain the process the IRS uses to track down a lost, stolen, or misplaced refund check or to verify that a financial institution received a direct deposit.
Before asking the IRS to track your refund, you should verify that there are no errors on your tax return and that the full processing time for a refund has passed.
If you requested a direct deposit refund, double check the bank account information you provided to the IRS to make sure there are no errors on your tax return. Please note that the IRS assumes no responsibility for errors made by the taxpayer or the tax preparer. You should also check with your financial institution to make sure the error was not on your part.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE NOT RECEIVED MY REFUND DUE TO AN IRS DELAY?
The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act made the following changes, effective for the 2017 tax filing season, to help prevent loss of income due to Identity Theft and Refund Fraud Related to False Wages and Withholdings:
- The IRS may not issue a credit or refund before February 15 if you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on your tax return.
- This change only affects returns claiming the EITC or ACTC filed before February 15.
- The IRS will hold your entire refund, including any portion of your refund that is not associated with the EITC or ACTC.
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Neither the Treasury Department nor the IRS can release any part of your refund before that date, even if you are experiencing financial hardship.
WHEN CAN I ASK THE IRS TO TRACK MY REFUND?
DIRECT DEPOSIT: The IRS generally deposits refunds within 21 days of receiving your electronic tax return. If you don’t receive your deposit within five days after the 21 days have passed, you can request a follow-up refund.
PAPER CHECK: If you don’t receive your refund check within six weeks of mailing your tax return to the IRS, you can request a refund follow-up.
WHAT IS HE FORM 3911?
To track your refund, you’ll need to complete Form 3911, Taxpayer’s Statement Regarding Refund.
Form 3911 notifies the IRS that you have not received the money to which you are entitled. That way, the tax agency launches an investigation to determine where your payment is and why you haven’t received it.
If you want to avoid problems and delays with your return, it is very important to choose a professional who is trained and honest. The IRS gives us tips and warnings. Visit https://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf for more details.
The primary purpose of Form 3911 is to track missing payments, not to determine the accuracy of the amount or whether you meet the criteria to receive that money. You should only file Form 3911 if a significant amount of time has passed since you filed your tax return.
You can expect a response within 6 to 8 weeks after you file Form 3911. Keep in mind that there will be delays as the tax agency continues to process millions of returns while issuing refunds and child credit payments.
HOW TO COMPLETE A FORM 3911 STEP BY STEP
You will need to provide the following information:
Tax return year
Check direct deposit
The Postal Service returned the check because it could not be delivered
The check was not cashed within one year of the date it was issued and is required by law to be uncashable
Lost, stolen or destroyed
ITIN or Social Security
Name of wife
ITIN or Social Security of the spouse
Modified personal information
Type of refund requested
SECTION II – REIMBURSEMENT INFORMATION
Status: You did not receive a refund; lost, stolen or destroyed
Bank number and account where you normally cash or deposit checks
Transit numbers and account numbers shown on the return for refund were not received
SECTION III – CERTIFICATION
SECTION IV – VERIFICATION DESCRIPTION
HOW DO I SEND THE FORM TO THE IRS ONCE IT IS COMPLETED?
By fax or by mail. You must mark the EIP or CTC Tracking Request on the envelope before submitting it.
These are the addresses by state:
Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont
Andover Internal Revenue Service, 310 Lowell St., Andover, MA 01810
Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Virginia
Atlanta Internal Revenue Service, 4800 Buford Hwy., Chamblee, GA 30341
Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas
Austin Internal Revenue Service, 3651 S. Interregional Hwy 35, Austin, TX 78741
Brookhaven Internal Revenue Service, 1040 Waverly Ave., Holtsville, NY 11742
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Fresno Internal Revenue Service, 5045 E. Butler Ave., Fresno, CA 93888
Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, West Virginia
Kansas City Internal Revenue Service, 333 W. Pershing Rd., Kansas City, MO 64108
Alabama, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee
Memphis Internal Revenue Service, 5333 Getwell Rd. Memphis, TN 38118
District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island
Philadelphia Internal Revenue Service: 2970 Market St. Philadelphia, PA 19104
A foreign country, US territory, you use an APO or FPO address, you file Form 2555 or 4563
Austin Internal Revenue Service, 3651 S. Interregional Hwy 35, Austin, TX 7874
WILL I GET THE MONEY BACK IF MY REFUND WAS LOST OR STOLEN?
Once the IRS finishes tracking your refund, the IRS’s next steps depend on whether you requested your refund as a direct deposit or a paper check.
If your refund was direct deposited, the financial institution will receive a letter within six weeks from the Office of the Fiscal Service at the Department of the Treasury verifying where the deposit went.
If it was a paper check and it hasn’t been cashed, you’ll receive a replacement refund check in about six weeks.
If your original refund check was cashed, you will receive a claim package within six weeks to complete and return to the Fiscal Service Office to process a claim.
If the IRS determines that the check was forged, it will issue a replacement refund check and notify the IRS.
If your claim is denied, the Fiscal Service Office will send you a denial letter with instructions on how to appeal the decision.
If your problem with the IRS is causing you financial difficulties, you have tried repeatedly and you do not receive a response from the tax agency or you believe that your rights as a taxpayer are not being respected, consider contacting the Taxpayer Advocacy Service (TAS).
You can receive representation from an attorney, Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Enrolled Agent (EA) associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) for little or no cost. Low Income Taxpayer Clinics also provide information on taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for people who speak English as a second language.
For more details on your refund being lost or stolen, visit the IRS fact sheet here.
To contact the Taxpayer Defense Service, open here.