When taxpayers file their taxes every year, some will need to pay money to the federal government. If they want to know whether the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has received their payment, they can look up this information easily using the agency's website. Conversely, if someone is waiting for a refund, they can also find that information on the website.
Individual Income Tax Return Submission Status
Each year, most people have to file income tax returns, whether they are independent contractors or employees. They can file returns on their own through an e-filing website, through software or by using the services of a tax accountant. When they file their return, they may owe the IRS money or be entitled to a refund. Taxpayers can find out the status of their return in one of several ways:
- By viewing their IRS account information on online.
- By calling the agency at 800-829-1040.
- By checking their emails or through status updates from an e-filing site or tax software.
If they file their taxes by mail, they can track their return through a confirmation of receipt by using USPS certified mail or other mail service. When calling the IRS to check on the status of a return, they should have the following information at hand:
- Birthdate and Social Security number.
- Filing status (single, married or head of household).
- Previous communications they have had with the IRS.
Checking a Direct Payment Submission
The IRS allows taxpayers to pay online directly from their bank account at no cost with its Direct Pay system. While completing a payment transaction, users can sign up to receive email confirmation through this system, but only if they signed up for it. If they haven't signed up and still get emails, it is likely a phishing scam.
Once they've made their payment and have received a confirmation number, they can access their records through the system's Look Up a Payment feature. They also have the option of modifying or canceling scheduled payments until two business days before the due date. Taxpayers can use the agency's Direct Pay option Mondays through Saturdays midnight to 11:45 p.m. EST and Sundays 7 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. EST.
Occasionally, system outages occur and this option may not be available. If this is the case, the user will receive a message. The system's availability has no bearing on payment dates, so users should make sure to give themselves ample time to make their payment before it's due.
Other Forms of Submitting Tax Payments
The IRS will not accept more than two payments in a 24-hour time period via Direct Pay, and they must total less than $10 million. Those making larger electronic payments to the agency can use EFTPS; however, they must enroll to use this service. To make payments, individuals can also use debit or credit cards, check, money orders and cash at an IRS retail partner.
When paying their taxes, individuals should contact their bank to verify if their payment has cleared their account before contacting the agency. If it's been at least two weeks since they submitted the payment, and the money is still in their account, they can call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to ask if it was received.
If the individual's payment hasn't cleared, they can make a stop payment and try again. The agency won't charge a penalty for a dishonored check to someone who chooses this option and may also reimburse them for stop-payment charges.
What Is a Tax Refund?
A tax refund happens when a person has paid more income tax than was necessary and is entitled to get money back from federal or state governments after filing their tax return. Overpayment of taxes occurs for a variety of reasons. Someone who works for an employer fills out a W-4 form when they first get hired which indicates the amount of tax they want taken from each paycheck. They'll get a refund when there has been too much taken out of their paycheck in withholdings.
Self-employed people pay their taxes a bit differently. They pay an estimated tax, usually quarterly, based on what they think they will make. They will get the overpayment back when they don't make as much as they thought. Conversely, they will owe more in taxes if they make more money and their estimated tax will likely go up the following tax year.
Checking Tax Refund Status
Those expecting a refund can get it through direct deposit to their account if they set that option with the IRS. They can check when they will receive their refund on the agency's website as long as they have their Social Security number, their whole refund dollar amount and their filing status by using the IRS's Where's My Refund tool or via the IRS2Go app. The agency updates these systems every 24 hours.
Taxpayers can also call the agency to check on their refund status, but phone assistance may not be available or reaching a customer service agent may take a long time. The IRS generally issues refunds with 21 days of e-filing and 42 days of receiving a paper return.
The agency mails refund checks to an individual's last known address. If a taxpayer moves without notifying the IRS or the post office, they may find their check returned to the agency. When a taxpayer moves, they should submit a Change of Address Form 8822 to the IRS, as well as a change of address to the USPS.
- IRS: Direct Pay With Bank Account
- IRS: Where's My Refund?
- IRS: IRS2Go Mobile App
- IRS: Change of Address - Form 8822
- IRS: General Procedural Questions 2
- IRS: What Is My Filing Status?
- IRS: Get Your Refund Faster: Tell IRS to Direct Deposit your Refund to One, Two, or Three Accounts
- IRS: Payment Lookup
- To view your status or make payments via EFTPS, you must pre-enroll.
- If for some reason the EFTPS system is down, use the non-electronic method to find out the status of your payment.
- If a payment is due and the EFTPS site is inaccessible, you may call the EFTPS voice response system at 800-555-3453.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.