What Happens After I File?

Most taxpayers have already filed their federal tax returns but may still have questions. Here’s what you need to know about refund status, recordkeeping, mistakes and what to do if you move.

Refund Information

You can go online to check the status of your 2008 refund 72 hours after IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or 3 to 4 weeks after you mail a paper return. Be sure to have a copy of your 2008 tax return available because you will need to know the filing status, the first SSN shown on the return, and the exact whole-dollar amount of the refund. You have three options for checking on your refund:

  • Go to IRS.gov, and click on “Where’s My Refund.”
  • Call 1-800-829-4477 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for automated refund information.
  • Call 1-800-829-1954 during the hours shown in your form instructions.

What Records Should I Keep?

Good record keeping allows you to prepare a complete and accurate income tax return. You should keep all receipts, canceled checks or other proof of payment, and any other records to support any deductions or credits you claim.

Normally, tax records should be kept for three years, but some documents — such as records relating to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, IRAs and business or rental property — should be kept longer.

You should keep copies of tax returns you have filed and the tax forms package as part of your records. They may be helpful in amending filed returns or preparing future ones.

Change of Address

If you move after you filed your return, you should send Form 8822, Change of Address to the Internal Revenue Service. If you are expecting a refund through the mail, you should also notify the post office serving your former address, which will ensure your check makes it to your new address.

What If I Made a Mistake?

Errors may delay your refund or result in notices being sent to you. If you discover an error on your return, you can correct your return by filing an amended return using Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Here are five reasons to file an amended return:

  1. You did not report some income,
  2. You claimed deductions or credits you should not have claimed.
  3. You did not claim deductions or credits you could have claimed.
  4. You should have claimed a different filing status. Taxpayers who filed a joint return cannot choose to file separate returns for that year after the due date of the return. However, an executor may be able to make this change for a deceased spouse.
  5. If you bought or are thinking of buying home, you may be able to file an amended return to claim the First Time Home Buyer Credit. Taxpayers who purchased a qualifying home can claim the Homebuyer Credit on the 2008 return without waiting until next year to claim it on their 2009 return.

Visit IRS.gov for more information and Frequently Asked Questions regarding refunds, record keeping, address changes and amended returns.

First-Time Homebuyers Have Several Options to Maximize New Tax Credit

As part of the Treasury Department’s consumer outreach effort and with the April 15 individual tax filing deadline approaching, the Internal Revenue Service today began a concerted effort to educate taxpayers about additional options at their disposal to claim the new $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit for 2009 home purchases. For people who recently purchased a home or are considering buying in the next few months, there are several different ways that they can get this tax credit even if they’ve already filed their tax return.

The Treasury Department encourages taxpayers to explore these options to maximize their credit and get their money back as fast as possible.

“The new credit can get money in the pockets of first-time homebuyers quickly,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “For people who recently purchased a home or are considering buying in the next few months, there are several different ways that they can get this tax credit even if they’ve already filed their tax return.”

First-time homebuyers represent a significant portion of existing single-family home sales. The expansion in the first-time homebuyer credit will make it easier for first-time homebuyers to enter the housing market this year.

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, qualifying taxpayers who purchase a home before Dec. 1 receive up to $8,000, or $4,000 for married individuals filing separately. People can claim the credit either on their 2008 tax returns due April 15 or on their 2009 tax returns next year.

The filing options to consider are:

  • File an extension — Taxpayers who haven’t yet filed their 2008 returns but are buying a home soon can request a six-month extension to October 15.  This step would be faster than waiting until next year to claim it on the 2009 tax return.  Even with an extension, taxpayers could still file electronically, receiving their refund in as few as 10 days with direct deposit.
  • File now, amend later — Taxpayers due a sizable refund for their 2008 tax return but who also are considering buying a house in the next few months can file their return now and claim the credit later.  Taxpayers would file their 2008 tax forms as usual, then follow up with an amended return later this year to claim the homebuyer credit.
  • Amend the 2008 tax return — Taxpayers buying a home in the near future who have already filed their 2008 tax return can consider filing an amended tax return. The amended tax return will allow them to claim the homebuyer credit on the 2008 return without waiting until next year to claim it on the 2009 return.
  • Claim the credit in 2009 rather than 2008 — For some taxpayers, it may make more financial sense to wait and claim the homebuyer credit next year when they file the 2009 tax return rather than claiming it now on the 2008 tax return. This could benefit taxpayers who might qualify for a higher credit on the 2009 tax return. This could include people who have less income in 2009 than 2008 because of factors such as a job loss or drop in investment income.

The IRS reminds taxpayers the amount of the credit begins to phase out for taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income is more than $75,000, or $150,000 for joint filers. Taxpayers can claim 10 percent of the purchase price up to $8,000, or $4,000 for married individuals filing separately.

IRS.gov provides more information, including guidance for people who bought their first homes in 2008. To learn more about the overall implementation of the Recovery Act, visit www.Recovery.gov.

First-Time Homebuyer Credit Gets More Flexibility

Taxpayers that are eligible for the first-time homebuyer credit have more flexibility in claiming the credit. If those taxpayers purchase a home this year before December 1, they can claim the tax credit on their 2008 return or their 2009 returns.

Are you eligible for the first-time homebuyer credit?
Are you eligible for the first-time homebuyer credit?

The first-time homebuyer credit can be worth up to $8,000, or $4,000 for married people filing separately. Homebuyers can claim 10% of the purchase price of the home, up to these caps.

Taxpayers will not be required to repay the credit, provided they remain in the home for at least 36 months after the purchase date. To qualify for the credit, you must be a first-time homebuyer, which means that you have not owned any other main home during the three-year period ending on the date of purchase.

“For first-time homebuyers this year, this special feature can put money in their pockets right now rather than waiting another year to claim the tax credit,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “This important change gives qualifying homebuyers cash they do not have to pay back.”