Where's my tax refund?

It's easy to search for your tax refund on the IRS website. See more income tax pictures.

You crunched the numbers, followed the prompts and clicked your mouse. With glee, you realize that some of your hard-earned cash will be heading back home in the form of a highly coveted federal tax refund. With visions of big screen TVs and new-car down payments dancing in your head, you check your online bank account (or mailbox if you're getting a check) for the reappearance of those beloved dollars that the government absconded with over the course of the previous 12 months.

OK ... now, a couple weeks have passed. Where's the tax refund? Should you be worried yet?

Probably not. The average electronic refund takes about three weeks, so wait that long before getting concerned. Thanks to the vastly more efficient electronic age, the IRS is able to quickly and accurately funnel tax refunds into individual and business bank accounts. But occasionally, a snag slows down the process, leading to moderate delays.

One common snafu is the failure on the part of the person or business to include all pertinent information when filing, which means the agency has to follow up with them. Other accidental inaccuracies, like an incorrect social security number or date of birth, can also lead to hiccups in the refund process, so take the advice of your grade school teachers and double-check all your work before turning it in. Above all else, be extra careful when entering your account information, lest the IRS accidentally send a windfall into someone else's account.

Also, bear in mind that the agency is slammed with tax returns in the final days leading up to the April 15 deadline, so refunds can take longer to process if you file late. Tax season is definitely friendlier to early birds than it is to procrastinators!

However, if the refund seems unreasonably delayed you can easily track it through the IRS website. Keep reading for more information about how the process works, in addition to tips for keeping tabs on your moolah.