Refunds are usually issued within 21 days for taxpayers who...

Refunds are usually issued within 21 days for taxpayers who e-file and choose direct deposit. Credit: Getty Images/agshotime

If you think your inbox can get overloaded, imagine being on the receiving end of the entire nation’s tax filings every April.

Federal tax officials process more than 160 million individual income tax returns every year, according to the IRS. The agency’s latest update shows it likely has another 60 million returns to go /through this year, and it will write another $130 billion in taxpayer refund checks before tax season is over. All together, IRS says it refunded $335 billion last year. 

If you’re still waiting for your refund, the IRS says it should be on its way soon. Refunds are usually issued within 21 days for taxpayers who e-file and choose direct deposit. That means that those who waited until Monday’s deadline to file should see a refund check before May 6.

Here's what to know while you wait.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Taxpayers usually receive their refunds within 21 days of filing.
  • You can check the status of your refund at the IRS and New York Tax Department websites.
  • The government may adjust how much they give you.

You can track your refund status

The government offers taxpayers a few ways to check the status of their refunds. If you’re expecting a federal refund, you can go online to the IRS Where’s My Refund? Tool or its IRS2Go smartphone app. There’s also an automated hotline (800-829-1954) if you’d rather just call over the phone.

New York taxpayers also check their refund status with the state’s online tool.

Both the state and federal refund checkers will require you to input your Social Security or tax ID number and the exact amount you’re expecting to receive on your return.

The IRS may change your refund amount

Some taxpayers will get checks that are different from what they expected. That’s usually because tax authorities calculated a different amount, based on the tax reporting that they received separately from your employer, your bank and other entities.

“If you get more back than you anticipated, it’s because you paid something somewhere that was left off the return, or there was a credit you were entitled to like an earned income credit or a child tax credit,” said Erika Calderon, managing principal at Brinster & Bergman accounting firm in Rockville Centre.

“If they reduce your refund, it’s usually because there’s income that was reported to them that wasn’t on your return,” Calderon said.

Taxpayers who disagree with state or federal adjustments to their refund will have a chance to appeal. They can reply to the tax notice that the government sends to explain the adjustment, or they can file an amended return that correctly reports whatever was missing from the previous filing.

It could take the IRS 60 to 90 days to resolve those disputes, depending on the volume of returns they’re still processing, Calderon said.

Update your withholding for next year?

Now that your 2023 income tax return is finished, you should check out the IRS’s Tax Withholding estimation tool to avoid any surprise tax bills next year.

The tool uses information from your most recent tax return, along with paystubs and other details about your income, to estimate how much you should set aside from your paychecks going forward.

It can be tough to calibrate your withholding just right. If you withhold too little, you could get hit with a big tax bill next year. But if you withhold too much, you’re letting the government hold onto part of your paycheck all year without paying any interest.

Calderon said she advises clients to start with their primary source of income and look at the IRS tax tables to see how much they’ll owe and how much they’ll set aside.

“Then I tell them to add a couple extra dollars out of their paychecks” to cover taxes from any extra income they might receive from side hustles or other sources.

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