Like millions of other hardworking and honest Americans, you dread April 15 each year. No, you never cheat on your taxes; just going through the filing process is nerve-wracking, as well as time-consuming. You can buy one of the scads of tax filing software programs out there, but they are all pretty much the same: it requires plenty of time and lots of information to just find out if you are getting a refund this year and how much. Worse, when you decide to take on for yourself something as complicated and demanding as filing your tax return, you risk making mistakes (which could incur fines, penalties, and/or interest) or fail to take advantage of every possible break to ensure your refund is as fat as possible.
Three Steps to Your Tax Refund
There are three stages to get that refund that you have been rubbing your hands in anticipation of and already have plans on how best to use.
- After you file your tax return (either electronically or manually), you must pass the “Return Received” stage. This is the notification from the IRS that their system check verified that your return is valid and is being processed.
- The next step is for the IRS to review your tax return, ensuring that is has been completed correctly. Passing this “Refund Approved” stage means your refund is approved and a date has been scheduled for your payment.
- Finally, the long-awaited “refund sent” stage is reached; your direct deposit or check has been sent and you can see that money glimmering at the end of a very short tunnel! (For a direct deposit, you are advised to check with your bank if it has not settled in five days.)
Checking the Progress of Your Refund
Once you know how much of a refund you will be getting, it’s easy to get impatient. It’s simply human nature to get antsy when waiting for something you really want; conveniently the IRS accommodates your impatience with “Where’s My Refund” (or its mobile companion, the IRS2Go app), where you can log in and learn in which stage your tax refund is (information is updated every 24 hours).
To get the status of your tax refund, you need the following information on hand:
- Your name
- Your social security number (the IRS calls it your TIN, Tax Identification Number)
- The exact amount of your refund
Once that information is given, your current status is provided; if you are past the first stage (“Return Received”), you will be given the date when your refund will process and can mark your calendar for your tax refund payday! If you are in the “refund sent” stage, you will be notified of the date that the direct deposit was made (or your check was mailed).
The Code 9001 Notice When Checking a Refund Status
So you log into Where’s My Refund (WMR) to check on the status of your tax refund. After entering your name, social security number, and refund amount, you don’t get your refund status, but instead see the following notice: IRS Code 9001: “Taxpayer accessed Refund Status using a secondary TIN. Refund Status could not be returned. Get a Primary TIN Analyze account and follow appropriate IRM.”
First off, the message could not be more incomprehensible if the agency really tried! Second, it sounds ominous when the first sentence accuses you of attempting to review your refund status using a secondary TIN. Third, before you completely freak out, this does not mean your refund won’t be paid or revoked. Let’s parse each sentence into plain English.
- “Taxpayer accessed Refund Status using a secondary TIN.” Plain English translation: Someone tried to login into your account on WMR using the wrong social security number.
- “Refund Status could not be returned.” Plain English translation: The IRS will not reveal your refund status. (Some people panic if they misread this sentence, thinking it says your refund could not be returned: this is not the case.)
- “Get a Primary TIN Analyze account and follow appropriate IRM.” Really? Plain English translation: Use the right social security number! (“Follow the appropriate IRM” means to follow the instructions using the WMR Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) instead of a different IRM.)
An IRS Code 9001 Example
So what really happened here? How can a person enter the wrong social security number? The most common reason is when couples or families file tax returns; when spouses file jointly they list each of their social security numbers on the tax return (and also include social security numbers for all dependent children). However, there is one primary filer for each tax return which is the name (and social security number) placed on the first line of Form 1040. When using WMR, only the primary taxpayer’s information will retrieve the status report.
Let’s say we have a family of mom (Mary), dad (Jim), and two kids (Tommy, aged 17 and Janice, aged 14). Let us further presume that Mary typically manages the finances, including filing tax returns. Because of that, she puts her name and social security on the first line of Form 1040. This year, when they filed they were thrilled to see an even larger refund ($3,000) than the previous year. After filing, Jim gets curious about the exact date of the refund. He heard about Where’s My Refund, so he went to the website and entered his name, social security number, and amount of refund. BANG! IRS Code 9001 pops up and Jim panics.
And therein lies the problem! The IRS is expecting Mary’s name, social security number, and exact amount of refund, so alarms went off when Jim’s information was instead entered. As you can see, this is a minor mistake, but the IRS prefers to slap indecipherable pronouncements instead of saying simply and clearly, “Oops! You entered the wrong name, TIN, or refund amount. Try again.” No matter, an IRS Code 9001 puts most Americans into a tizzy when they see that instead of the much-anticipated date of their refund.
Civic Tax Relief: The Taxpayers Advocate
While an IRS Code 9001 turns out to be a false alarm almost every time (the original intent of this code was to flag potential identity thefts, which is extremely rare; if there was an attempt, you would be directly notified by the IRS), it still can cause heart palpitations and undue stress. There are certainly larger IRS problems to worry about (wage garnishment, levies, fines, back taxes), which is why you want Civic Tax Relief to be your advocate. We have tackled every possible tax problem out there, all with outstanding results for our clients. We don’t just hold your hand and try to calm your nerves; we step right up to the plate and go to bat for you, from communicating with the IRS on your behalf to negotiating the best settlements possible. In other words, we have your back!
To top it all off, we are also experienced and accomplished tax preparers; we can file your taxes right the first time, avoid costly errors, and get you the highest possible tax refund. Contact us today so you can stop worrying and start living again!