What can I do about a lost tax refund check?


If your filing status was married filing jointly, you must complete Form 3911 and mail it to the IRS; individuals with other filing statuses can just call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-1954.

Derek Silva


Derek Silva

Derek Silva

Senior Editor & Personal Finance Expert

Derek is a former senior editor and personal finance expert at Policygenius, where he specialized in financial data, taxes, estate planning, and investing. Previously, he was a staff writer at SmartAsset.

Published May 1, 2020 | 3 min read

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You can get a replacement for your federal income tax refund check if it is lost, stolen, or destroyed. You just need to initiate refund trace. The process for getting a replacement check depends on your filing status and whether or not your original check has been cashed.

Married couples who filed a joint tax return will need to complete IRS Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund and either mail or fax it to the IRS. You cannot submit it online. If you had any other filing status, you can call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-1954. The automated phone system will help you initiate a refund trace, or you can request to speak to an agent.

If your tax refund check hasn’t been cashed by anyone, you can expect to receive a replacement check in six to eight weeks.

If your refund check was already cashed by someone, the process to get a second check will likely take at least a few months. First, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) — an agency within the Treasury Department — will send you a claim package. It will contain a photocopy of the check along with a copy of Form 1133. You must complete this form and mail it back, using the address listed in your claim package. (From this point onward, direct any specific questions you have to the BFS.) The BFS will then review your claim, which can take up to six weeks. If it finds you have a legitimate reason to receive a new check, it will mail one.

How to check your refund status

If you haven’t received your tax refund yet, you can check its status in two ways:

To check your refund’s status, you will need to enter your Social Security number or ITIN, your filing status, and your exact refund amount.

Your refund status should be available 24 hours after you e-file your tax return, or about four weeks after you mailed your return. (Amended returns may take eight weeks or longer.) The IRS advises taxpayers not to call about refunds unless that amount of time has passed.

Keep in mind that the IRS can’t share your tax information with anyone other than you, unless you have authorized the IRS to do so. This authorization must be given on your federal tax return when you file it, or by completing Form 8821.

Looking for your coronavirus stimulus check? Learn more about the stimulus checks.

I didn’t get my direct deposit refund

First, double check your tax return to make sure you entered your bank account number and routing number correctly.

If the information is correct, and your refund status says the payment has been sent already, contact the IRS. You may need to request a refund trace just like with a missing refund check. If you or your tax preparer made a mistake and the IRS hasn’t sent your payment yet, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to request a stop payment or correct your information.

If the IRS has already sent your refund payment to the wrong bank account, you may not be able to recoup it. Start by contacting the bank or credit union that received your refund to notify them of the mistake. If it returns the money, the IRS will usually mail you a paper check refund. If nothing happens within two weeks of contacting the bank, fill out IRS Form 3911 and mail it to the IRS. This form allows the IRS to contact the institution on your behalf.

The bank will have 90 days to respond to the IRS, but the bank doesn’t have to return your refund and the IRS cannot compel it to do so. At this point, your only option is a civil lawsuit against the financial institution or the owner of the account where your refund was deposited.