Reasons Why You Haven’t Received Your Tax Refund

Tax Refund

So, you filed your 2016 tax return and were happy to see a big fat number in the refund column.

You started making all kinds of plans for that money. Here we are at the end of May and you still haven’t seen your refund check. You’ve tried calling the IRS but of course, you can’t get a human being on the line. So, what on earth could the problem be?

There are several reasons you’ve not seen your tax refund.

The big reason would be that the government, yes, the U.S. Treasury seized it.

And if your refund was seized for any of the reasons listed below you can stop hoping and dreaming about how you’re going to spend that money because it’s likely you’re never going to see that refund check.

If you prepared your own taxes, you would have overlooked some of the questions a tax preparer would have asked. If you had someone else prepare your taxes, perhaps you forgot to answer the questions that would have led them to tell you your refund could have been seized.

Either way, to jog your memory, review the reasons below that are typically why taxpayers don’t get their refunds. There is likely one that will apply to you.

First and foremost is if you owe back taxes, your current refund will be applied to any outstanding tax debt. You should also get a notice from the IRS explaining why the money was withheld.

The state can also withhold your federal tax refund to cover unpaid state taxes. And, if your state believes you collected more in unemployment compensation than you were entitled to either due to outright fraud or to a failure to properly report your earnings, it can also ask the U.S. Treasury to offset your tax refund.

Student Loans

If you defaulted on a federally insured student loan, the government can seize your tax refund to help repay it. The Treasury Department is required to send you advance notice as well as to provide an opportunity for you to challenge the claim or pay it off before your refund is withheld.

Your state could also withhold money from your state tax refund for this purpose. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education, or the guaranty agency that holds your loan, has the authority to order your employer to withhold up to 15% of your disposable income until the defaulted loan is paid off.

Child Support

When parents become delinquent in paying court-ordered child support, their state’s child-support agency can request that the Treasury Department withhold money from their tax refund to cover the back payments.

People in this situation should receive a pre-offset notice explaining how much they owe, how the offset process works, and how to contest the debt. Once the money has been withheld from their refund, they should also receive an offset notice from the Bureau of the Fiscal Service showing how much money it withheld and referring them back to the state child-support agency if they have further questions.

Spousal Support

Similarly, an award for spousal support that’s part of a child-support order can also result in a tax-refund offset if those payments are overdue.

Note that if you filed a joint return with your spouse, and your refund was offset because of debts belonging only to your spouse, you can request your portion of the refund back from the IRS.