Taxes and the entire tax season can be pretty stressful trying to get all your paperwork organized, figuring out any deductions or claims that should be made, and of course, sitting down to fill out the right forms accurately and timely. But, for some people, there is a glorious light at the end of that tunnel which meant getting a tax refund check. Even though you may have had taxes taken out of your check, it still feels like free money in a way. And of course, it feels good to get it.

What if you filed on time but still haven’t received your tax refund?

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Photo Courtesy: Kristen

The scary truth it, there are reasons why you won’t get a refund at all, beyond the IRS delay this year. This is horrible especially if you were counting on a refund and need it to pay bills. Here are some reasons why you actually may not be getting a tax refund this year.

Why You Didn’t Get a Tax Refund

  • You haven’t been paying your student loans.
    I get it. Trying to deal with student loans is rough. Student loan debt is a bigger problem than ever today. But keep in mind, if you default on any student loans that are given by the Department of Education (and the federal government), they can withhold any tax refund. Being one or two days late for a loan payment isn’t considered default, but it can still negatively impact your credit. Your loan is in default if you are scheduled to repay monthly, and you fail to make a payment for 270 days. If you are scheduled to make a payment less than once a month, than your loans are in default after 330 days of no payments.

    If you are unable to make a student loan payment, try to defer it before you are delinquent. You can defer if you’re unemployed or can prove economic hardship. You can also look into student loan forgiveness programs. If your loan has already gone into default, contact your lender immediately. You can try to speak with them to find out if there are any options available to you like another payment plan or putting your loan in forbearance temporarily. If not, unfortunately your taxes can be withheld to collect on anything you have defaulted on.

  • Your calculations weren’t accurate.
    If you are did your taxes by yourself, be sure all of your numbers were right and all tax calculations were accurate. One simple mistake could off-set the rest of your document. If you added or subtracted something wrong and you had a mistake, you may not be getting a refund until things are corrected. To eliminate this, go back and double check every calculation you made. Take your time, and don’t rush. Rushing can lead to simple mistakes that could end up costing you in the end. If you find a mistake, you can file an amended tax return.

    If someone else did your taxes for you, be sure all of the numbers and amounts you gave them are correct. Don’t be afraid to double check their work as well.

  • You owe taxes from a prior year.
    Even mistakes made in previous years can result in not getting a tax refund this year. If you owe any taxes for any reason, the government will withhold any refund you were anticipating this year. In this situation, if you owe, you owe, and there isn’t much you can do about it. What are Your Options When You Owe the IRS Money?

  • You have incorrect information on your taxes.
    Just like mistakes with your math, putting down any wrong information throughout your taxes can result in a holding of your refund. And it probably happens most with simple information that you could be rushing through like your social security number, address, or city and state. Even if you leave off what your filing status is, your refund may be withheld. The same is true if you make another mistake throughout like thinking you qualify for a deduction that you do not.

    To avoid this, do the same thing you would do to be sure your calculations are correct. Take your time. Go back and double check even the simplest information, like your name.

To prevent it from happening in the future, be sure to pay any taxes you owe. Also, be sure you keep up with your student loans and be sure your information is accurate to ensure you won’t have money withheld from these mistakes from the past.

Have you ever gone without a tax refund when you thought you were going to get one? What was the reason?

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