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William Perez

How to Track Down a Missing Refund

By January 12, 2009

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Tax refunds are sometimes delayed, often for inexplicable reasons. In many cases, you can track your tax refund online using the Where's My Refund? applet on the IRS Web site. This look up tool, however, only tracks a refund for the most current tax year. So if you're trying to find out about your refund from 2007 or an earlier year, you'll need to call the IRS. They have a special toll-free hotline just for refund inquiries at 1-800-829-4477.

Normally, you should allow eight to twelve weeks for a refund check to arrive in your mail box. If it's been longer than twelve weeks, it's definitely time to call the IRS. If it's been much longer than twelve weeks, you might want to contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Twice last year I had to call in the Taxpayer Advocate to find refunds that had been delayed for well over twenty four months. This doesn't happen very often, but when it does happen, it's good to let the Taxpayer Advocate get involved so they can identify if there are any systematic ways to prevent similar problems from recurring in the future.

January 12, 2009 at 10:55 pm
(1) shereka says:

I ammended my tax returns from the 2007 year (1040x). I never received anything from the IRS no notice or anything. My tax preparer said dont worry about it. But what does that mean? Also what does code 1102 mean?

January 12, 2009 at 11:12 pm
(2) taxes says:

If it’s been less than 12 weeks since you filed your amended return, I would not worry about it. If it’s been more than 12 weeks, I’d call them to find out if they received the return and when to expect a refund check.

As for code 1102, I assume you are talking about the internal codes that the IRS uses when looking up refunds on their computer system. Code 1102 is used to indicate that there’s “No data, taxpayer filed electronic return more than 3 weeks ago.” Since you are filing an amendment (which must be filed on paper), it’s unclear what this code might mean. Normally, this code means that the IRS does not have any tax return data in their system even though it should have. Thus this code usually means the taxpayer needs to send in another copy of the return. (Source: Internal Revenue Manual 21.4.1.)

However, I would ask the IRS what the status of your amendment is and get the answer directly from them. They should not use numeric codes when speaking to you. If they do, ask them to explain exactly what it is that indicator means.

January 13, 2009 at 1:54 pm
(3) Jeff S. Melamed, CPA says:


One of the more informative and accurate tax websites around.

One small correction about your piece re: tracking IRS refunds:

I’ve been using the “Where’s My Refund” feature for years and find that one CAN track refunds for prior years.

The only caveat is that since the feature keys on the AMOUNT of the refund, but not the tax YEAR, that you can only track a prior year’s refund if it is a different amount than a more current year.

For example, if my ’06 refund was $2,000 and my ’07 refund was also $2,000, the feature would not let you track the earlier (’06) refund. But if the amounts were different, you could track each of the refunds.

I note that the feature only lets you track original return refunds, not amended returns.

January 13, 2009 at 2:09 pm
(4) taxes says:

Jeff, thanks for the clarification. Personally, I prefer to call the IRS directly, but then I can obtain more specific information about the status of a tax return, such as whether it’s being processed or if a refund is being applied to a different tax year. But for most cases, using the applet on the IRS Web site will do the job just fine.

March 25, 2009 at 7:49 pm
(5) rob says:

hi i am also waiting ( filed feb.2) on an amendment refund, tried calling the i.r.s. using two different numbers but only get the automated service which is no help.how do i speak to an actual person ?

March 25, 2009 at 7:51 pm
(6) rob says:

how can i contact an actual person from the IRS and not the automated service i keep getting, concerning an amendment refund?

July 5, 2009 at 4:33 pm
(7) mark says:

I don’t believe I included copies of my W2′s with my amended return (1040x), although my original return, which I have long since received, did, of course, include them. If they are required for the 1040x, how can I secure my return? I sure appreciate your expertise in this matter.

July 6, 2009 at 10:21 pm
(8) William Perez says:

Mark, you don’t need to include copies of your W-2 forms along with the amended return, unless there was something particular about the W-2s that you wanted to bring to the attention of the IRS. Generally it takes about eight to twelve weeks for the IRS to issue an additional refund from an amendment. So if it’s been at least eight weeks since you mailed it in, you might want to give the IRS a call at 1-800-829-1040.

November 20, 2011 at 9:09 pm
(9) daniel says:

an individual/firm signed a contract with me, here in the united states. he took out life’s savings and then left for israel. is there a way that i can ask the authorities if he is now paying taxes in israel?

i thank you for your assistance.


November 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm
(10) William Perez says:

Sounds like a legal issue to me. In the US, the IRS never divulges information about a person’s tax filings to anyone other than the person himself.

November 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm
(11) Megan says:

I recently was doing a check of my banking info and realized I never receieved my return for 2009, but the status says it was direct Deposit, Is it possible that it went into someone elses account and what can I do to get my refund.

February 12, 2013 at 9:41 pm
(12) Joyce Wilkins says:

I filed my refund in 2012 and never received any thing no notice and no one could tell me anything. Now again I filed and my state was approved and I have not received it yet.

April 24, 2013 at 9:38 am
(13) tring to track a state refund check down for mississsippi says:

they sent my check on feb 14th never got it lines are buzy what to do ?

April 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm
(14) William Perez says:

Call the agency and request a refund trace.

May 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm
(15) P A says:

I have not recvd my state tax refund. My fed income tax was late as my
CPA didnt enter my bank acct correctly . I finally did get the fed refund .. It was also sent to the state of Mississippi on 2/10/13 . I really need this ASAP. Thanks , P A Maccarino

December 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm
(16) Charles says:

I mailed 3 amended returns (2010, 2011 and 2012) to the IRS in early October while the US government was shutdown. Once the IRS reopened two of the amended returns appeared on the “Where’s my amended return?” website within a week. But the 2010 return has yet to appear.

Also, I just received in the mail the copy of my original 2010 return attached to the 1040X as backup material. It had a green form on top asking me to sign it and attach my W2. It was being treated as if I was filing my 2010 taxes late.

My guess is the back up documentation got separated from the 1040X and since that never appeared on the website I now wonder if it has been lost entirely.

I called the IRS and they said it wasn’t in the computer but I should wait 16 weeks and if nothing happens resubmit the 2010 1040X with a letter explaining it is a re-submission. 16 weeks is mid-February! That will also make it over 3 years since the original 1040 was submitted. (It is my understanding, I have just 3 years from the initial filling to file a 1040X.) Should I wait or send a re-submission now?

January 15, 2014 at 10:47 pm
(17) Frenchie Frazier says:

TO: Anyone
I filed at a company recommended by a friend. I was told I would receive a refund of approximately $4800. I received a check for $300 dollars and was told that the remainder was in a couple weeks. This was in 2013. I tried to amend the return and from then I have had problems with the IRS. I’ve been told that I did get a check from the company, I now owe taxes, the paperwork was wrong and even that I did not have proof that my 14 year old daughter is not verified.
what is this “locate your refund?’. I really think the tax preparer commited fraud and cashed my refund check. I have been trying for a year to correct this. How does this work.?

January 16, 2014 at 3:39 pm
(18) William Perez says:

Frenchie, I’m sorry to hear your troubles. It’s not immediately clear what the cause of the problem is. Here’s what I recommend. Order a copy of your record of account for the year with the problem (2013). You can do this by filling out Form 4506-T, indicate the year in box 6 and check box 6c. You can obtain the record account either by going to a local IRS taxpayer assistance center, or by mailing or faxing the Form 4506-T to the IRS. When the record of account is received, gather all of these documents: the record of account, your 2013 tax return, and any letters you’ve received from the IRS or state tax agencies. Once gathered together, review all the documents starting with the tax return. Is the tax return complete and accurate? How much was your federal refund? Was the refund to be sent by direct deposit or by check? Was the refund split among different accounts on Form 8888? If so, review each of the accounts shown on Form 8888 to see if those are your bank accounts. Now read over your record of account. There’s a section showing all account activity, such as when the return was filed, how much and when the refund was sent out. Does the refund amount shown on the record of account match the refund amount shown on the tax return? Finally, did you actually receive the funds the IRS show as being refunded to you?

This exercise may or may not isolate the cause of the problem. What the exercise does is review the IRS’s activity to see if it corresponds with what you filed.

You may want to consult with another tax professional (not the same one who prepared the 2013 tax return) to review all these documents. Find a local CPA or Enrolled Agent, as these types of professionals are permitted to act on your behalf before the IRS.

If it turns out that some of your refund was diverted to another person’s bank accounts, this could be a case of preparer fraud. In that case, you’ll want to consult with an attorney to see what options you have.

I hope this helps and that you eventually sort everything out.

February 3, 2014 at 7:14 pm
(19) Terry says:

trying to speak to someone on the phone about 2012 return, showed processing on the site for several months, then info incorrect. What number do I call. Both I have tried only give me automation and no chance to speak with someone despite multiple attempts at pushing 0 for operator.

February 7, 2014 at 4:16 pm
(20) Alisa says:

I’ve tried every possible number to reach a live tax person or IRS to see if my 2012 tax refund is coming and my amendment return went threw but I can’t get ahold of no one how can I get someone or can I go to any tax place and ask about it?

March 2, 2014 at 7:32 pm
(21) natalie burns says:

I requested to get my federal back as a check. it has been printed and mailed sense the 14 of feb. should I be worried and does the 21 day rule apply to this after being mailed.

April 7, 2014 at 9:26 pm
(22) Rogelio Pascua says:

Inasmuch as my inquiry cannot be answered through online and telephone, kindly answer my question: Where do I have to report my lost or misplaced 2013 tax refund CHECK and t request for its replacement? I cannot find among my record filed at home.

April 8, 2014 at 1:00 am
(23) William Perez says:

Rogelio, you’ll need to call the IRS. They have a special hotline for refund inquiries: 1-800-829-4477. The IRS agent can look up the status of the refund and let you know if it was sent to you, if the post office returned the check, or if the check was cashed. They can also let you know what to do if something’s gone wrong. For example if the check was cashed, the IRS can trace the refund to figure out which bank account it was deposited into — there’s a special procedure to do that. The IRS agent can let you know what the most appropriate procedure is based on researching what’s in their computer system. When calling the IRS, it’s good practice to make a note of the agent’s name, badge #, and the time and date of your call, along with any notes about the actions you need to take to follow up. Hope you can resolve this satisfactorily. Thanks for reading.

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