Dude, Where’s My Refund? – The Journey of a U.S. Tax Return in 5 Steps

You’ve gotten your W-2 in the mail and you’re excited. What will your refund be this year? And more importantly, how soon can you get it? At Jackson Hewitt, we share your excitement and want the tax filing process to be as easy and speedy as possible.  Let’s take a look at the journey your return goes on once it’s filed.

1.) The process begins.
– You’ve had your tax return prepared at Jackson Hewitt. Give yourself a pat on the back—you’re very wise. Jackson Hewitt will “stamp” your return with an electronic postmark and then then transmit the completed returns to the IRS.

2.) Verification and Acknowledgment.
The IRS runs a three-step verification process before accepting your tax return. First they verify the return file meets the e-filing specifications.  Jackson Hewitt tests and retests all e-file specifications thoroughly before the IRS starts accepting tax returns so you can rest assured your tax return will meet this verification process. 

The second verification checks the names and Social Security numbers of you, your spouse and any dependents as reported on the tax return against a master file received from the Social Security Administration.
  If there is a Social Security Number and name or birth date mismatch, the tax return is rejected.  If the information matches the return goes through the final and third verification.

Here, the IRS computer check verifies basic tax information is accurate, such as confirming that no credits or deductions are claimed on the tax return if the filing status doesn’t allow the credit.
  Jackson Hewitt’s proprietary software, ProFiler®, and the Tax Pro verify these are correct before transmitting your return. 

This may seem like a lot, but all three of these steps are verified in a matter of a few minutes!  Once your tax return passes these verifications, you return is acknowledged by the IRS.  The acknowledgement includes a time and date stamp for the IRS receipt of return.  You can expect your refund in less than 21 days from the time it is acknowledged. In most cases, though, it will arrive much faster. Most taxpayers who e-file can check the IRS’s “
Where’s My Refund” site within 24 hours.

3.) Processing.
Your return is now moved into processing.  During the processing of your tax return, the IRS runs various fraud checks on the tax return.  Those tax returns that are identified as a potential risk are moved to a more thorough review process, slowing down the refund (if you are expecting one).  Once your return passes the fraud checks, the refund request is approved and forwarded to the Treasury Department for payment. 

4.) Treasury Check.
Your refund request is at the Treasury Department where it undergoes a check against the Treasury records for any federal tax debt.  If you owe federal tax debt, your refund will be used first to pay the debt, then any remaining refund will be released. 

Processing and checking your refund are also very quick processes, unless your tax return is rejected in the verification process or identified as a potential risk.

5.) Refund arrives!
 Once your refund is released from the Treasury, the Financial Management Service (FMS) matches the names and Social Security numbers of the taxpayers against a database of individuals who owe other delinquent federal debt, such as student loans, or debt to a state including back taxes or back child support.  If your refund clears this process, it’s on its way. 

If you selected direct deposit, your refund will be sent to your bank account. If you are expecting a paper check, it may be more than 6 weeks before you receive your refund because you must wait for check to work its through the mail system before you receive your refund.

Jackson Hewitt offers additional methods to receive your refund.  Stop by your local Jackson Hewitt office and ask your Tax Pro for additional information regarding the Assisted Refund. You can have your tax preparation fees deducted from your refund upon completion of services and the balance of the refund will be disbursed to you by check, direct deposit or JH Preferred Prepaid Card.

When you’re waiting for your money, it can seem like an eternity – we understand. We hope this explanation of all the moving parts behind the tens of millions of returns the IRS processes each year makes the waiting just a little more bearable!