What to Do After You’ve Filed Your Taxes

by on March 9th, 2015
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You’ve filled out your income tax returns, checked everything twice, attached your payment if taxes were due, and then sent everything in to the IRS on it. Good job. Now what? The paperwork falls into a black hole until you get your refund or an IRS followup notice (it happens if your math was incorrect.)? Not quite.

In the old days, when tax reporting and filing was essentially paper-driven, the above paragraph may have probably been the case. With the benefits of the Internet and modern technology, you can access your filing information much faster.

First off, you can find out the status of your tax refund almost daily. The IRS’ website now offers a handy link named aptly, “Where’s My Refund?”. On this web page you can enter in your identification data and then get a daily report on your refund status. This information begins to be available three days after the IRS received your electronic filing (i.e. 72 hours). If you mailed your return, however, it takes a bit longer (three to four weeks).

To get this status report, you will need to reference specific information on your previous year’s tax return. Additionally you will need the Social Security number of the first person listed on that return as well as the dollar figure of the refund that was paid. These act as identifiers to correctly pull up your own information. If the Internet is not your friend, however, the same information can be accessed by phone by calling 800-829-4477. The automated phone response is available all hours of the day, seven days a week.

For those with a smartphone, both Android and Apple iTunes carry the IRS2Go application. With it you can also check on the status of your tax filing while traveling. So you don’t need to wait until you get back to your personal desktop PC anymore either.

While you’re waiting for your refund, it’s a good time to close up your files and make sure everything is in order before you store away your files. Remember, you should keep your tax documentation for at least three years after filing in case you get questions from the IRS or your local state tax agency. That said, a few specific documents would be worth your time to hold onto a bit longer. This includes real estate sales such as a home sale, retirement account records, stock brokerage paperwork, and business documentation supporting your Schedule C filing or hobby.

The best option would be to scan all the documentation and then keep it all in the same package and folder. This gives you an easy to access electronic file version in case something gets lost and a paper package for manual reference. If you just rely on paper alone, some of the carbon paper receipts can fade with time and pages can get damaged or lost. Having both gives you peace of mind in case an accident occurs, and accidents do happen.

Additionally, you may come across an issue or a clarification that makes you think twice about what you reported on your taxes. If so, and you need to make a change, your documentation will help reference what you originally reported. That way you can clearly show what you fixed when you file to amend your past taxes.

Finally, did you move right after you filed your taxes? Well, the IRS isn’t going to know that unless you tell them. Instead of relying on the U.S. Postal Service form to forward your refund check, play it safe and also send the IRS the information. Use IRS Form 8822 – Change of Address to update the agency’s records. They’re going to get your new info eventually anyways when you file your taxes again, so don’t feel peevish about it.


U.S. Internal Revenue Service: Where’s My Refund?

IRS Publication 552, Recordkeeping for Individuals

IRS Form 8822, Change of Address

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