What to do if you think your refund check has been lost or stolen

The IRS confirmed that some refund checks began arriving as early as March 1.

Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

One of the most anticipated moments in tax season is the refund. However, this stage can become a problem if you think your refund check was stolen or lost.

Since last March 1, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) confirmed that the first refunds began to arrive, mainly for those who made an electronic declaration.

Before making any decision, there are some important points that it is good to remember about the times that the IRS takes to make the returns.

What you need to know about the refund check

Before trying to run to the nearest IRS office, lor first is to confirm the status of the procedure in the service “Where is my refund“.

Remember that the information offered there allows to know if the declaration had any problem and the stage in which the reimbursement is.

This platform may indicate that the declaration is “still in process”, which means that you just have to wait a little longer.

However, if the service indicates that the refund has already been issuedand several days have passed since this moment, then it's time to take action to track the check or deposit.

What dates you must take into account to receive the refunds

The first thing you should know is that the IRS does not send any refund before 21 days since a taxpayer's return was received.

The foregoing means that, if the declaration was received without errors, after 21 days, the deposit will arrive with great certainty.

Keep in mind that the IRS has millions of overdue returns due to lack of personnel, although it has already announced that it will hire 10,000 workers to combat this problem.

However, if the “Where's My Refund” platform indicates that the check or deposit was sent, and five days have passed after the normal period of 21 days. You may start to think that your refund was stolen or lost.

For refunds requested by mailed check, you should calculate about six weeks since notice was given that the refund was sent.

What can you do to get your tax refund tracked?

What you should do is ask the IRS to trace the check or deposit in question.

But like everything in the world of taxes, for this it is necessary to fill out Form 3911 and send it by mail.

This document tells the IRS that you have not received the refund and therefore should launch an investigation.

You can expect six to eight weeks from the time you submit this form for a response.

At this point the figure to keep in mind is “six weeks”. This period is what is expected in case:

  • The bank has been notified and must track a direct refund deposit
  • The check has been sent, but not cashed, and therefore the IRS issues a new one
  • The check was sent, not received and cashed; then the IRS will send you a claim kit

Keep in mind that the Tax Service Office may also deny your request and you will then have to initiate an appeal process.

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