Tax Refunds: How Do They Work?

US Treasury Income Tax Refund Check

The best part about filing your taxes is getting the tax refund check! Chances are, you have been paying your taxes directly, or your employer has been withholding tax dollars from your paychecks. Many individuals overpay on their taxes, so they quickly file their taxes to get their tax refunds as soon as possible.

How do tax refunds work?

Your employer withholds some of money from your paycheck, based on a formula and the information you provided on your W4 when you got hired. If, once your tax responsibility is computed, more tax was withheld than you owe, you may be entitled to a tax refund.

Because you pay taxes to both the federal government and to the state, you might receive two tax refunds. The amount will depend on how much you have overpaid throughout the year. To make sure you receive both tax refunds, you will have to file your taxes with both the federal government and the state government.

How do I get my tax refund?

To get your tax refunds, you have to file your tax returns. You can do this on your own or by hiring a tax professional. You must also make the deadline, which is usually in April, or file for an extension. You can find more information on these topics at the IRS website.

Most individuals opt to file taxes on their own to save from having to pay professional fees to tax specialists. Thanks to the Internet, almost anyone can easily file their taxes online! There are many software and program choices available online.

You will need your W2’s or 1099’s, and other documents to file your taxes. Once you have these documents, you can use online tax filing programs to plug in your information. Tax filing programs are easy to use, with clear instructions and instant help. The program will guide you through each step, and will even help you find deductions to maximize your deductions and refund checks!

When do I get my tax refund?

You will usually receive your tax refund checks in the mail within three weeks. When you file your taxes online, you can also choose to have your tax refunds directly deposited into your bank account. All you need is your bank account and routing numbers, which you can easily locate at the bottom of your personal check. When you choose the direct deposit option, you’ll receive your check in half the time.

NOTE: If you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on your tax return, the IRS must hold your refund until mid-February. The law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC or ACTC. Like previous years, some tax refunds may be held if there are questions about the tax return or the IRS needs more information. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or debit cards starting Feb. 27, 2018, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.

What if  don’t receive my tax refund?

The Treasury Offset Program is a centralized offset program, administered by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s Debt Management Services (DMS), to collect delinquent debts owed to federal agencies and states (including past-due child support), in accordance with 26 U.S.C. § 6402(d) (collection of debts owed to federal agencies), 31 U.S.C. § 3720A (reduction of tax refund by amount of the debts), and other applicable laws.

The most important thing to remember about tax refunds is that you have to file to receive them. So get your tax returns in by April – your money may be waiting!

Have a Federal Tax issue you are dealing with? The Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic – Low Income Taxpayer Clinic can consult with you to provide advice regarding your IRS tax issues, and/or potentially act on your behalf for FREE if you qualify for assistance (come to a clinic intake session)!

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Jim Floyd is the Staff Enrolled Agent at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic – Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

As an Enrolled Agent, Jim is a federally-licensed tax practitioner with unlimited rights to represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service. This means he is unrestricted as to which taxpayers he can represent, what types of tax matters he can handle, and which IRS offices he can represent clients before. Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards.

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