Let's face it, for many of us filing our tax return can be stressful.
We understand that. But it doesn't have to be! Take a few minutes to better understand the Iowa filing process and maybe doing your taxes will drop from your “most stressful things” list.
Let's start by boiling it down to three simple, but important steps.
The more you understand about providing correct information, the more efficiently we are able to serve you. So, let's work together for a good outcome.
File Your Return
You can file through a tax preparer, on paper, or through a 3rd-party software vendor.
Filing yourself? Start with Filing an Income Tax Return under I am... An Individual. For most individual taxpayers, this page contains all the information you need, including links to forms, expanded instructions, and Common Mistakes to avoid to ensure a quick review of your return.
Fast tax fact: The Department processed over 1.71 million individual income tax returns in calendar year 2022. But the Department does more than your income tax return, there were over 423,000 withholding tax returns and 936,000 sales and use tax returns filed during calendar year 2023.
We look at your information
(and keep it safe)
It's our job to collect the right amount of tax and provide you the correct refund, if it is due. How we do that has become increasingly complex because of tax refund fraud. Cyber criminals attempt to file fraudulent tax returns using stolen personal information from Iowa taxpayers. The good news is we take your security seriously. We have to. It's our job.
Fast tax fact: Bad news for Cyber criminals. In 2023, the Department identified $36 million in fraudulent or incorrect refund claims.
Tax returns are reviewed for accuracy to ensure refunds go to the right taxpayer in the correct amount and stay out of the hands of criminals. This includes a combination of automated and manual reviews. Here are the key items for our review process:
Is it complete?
Remember to answer all questions and sign the form, if you are filing by paper. If filing jointly, make sure you both signed the form.
Is it accurate?
Since we need to make sure it's really you who is filing, double-check your personal information (name, address, and social security number), as well as your tax calculations.
Is there more to it?
We may find our calculations are different from yours. Or that you have an outstanding balance owed to another public agency. Or we simply have a question.
If we have a question, we will contact you by letter asking for more information. If you get a letter from us, respond to the contact included on the letter with the requested information so we can complete the review.
Unless you receive a letter from us, there is no action you need to take for your refund to be processed.
While our initial review process is thorough, there are instances when an even more comprehensive review needs to be done. Sometimes this occurs even after a refund has been issued.
Some common stiuations where we may contact you by letter include:
- When our calculation on a return is different than yours
- When you have an outstanding balance owed to another public agency
- When we have a question about an item reported on your return
Fast tax fact: In 2023, the Department identified $34.7 million in mistakes found on returns.
Get your refund
The Department’s goal is to process refunds within 30 days. You can check on the status of your return or refund at Where's My Refund which is updated in real-time.
- Pending Approval or Processing - Your return was received. We have reviewed your return and your refund is being processed. If your refund amount is different than the requested amount, you will receive a letter from the Department with additional information.
- No Matching Refund - There is no match for the Social Security Number (SSN) and amount you entered. Please check your SSN and the dollar amount and try again later.
- Approved - Your refund is being processed. If your refund amount is different than the requested amount, you will receive a letter from the Department with additional information.
- Paper Check Issued - Please allow 14 days to receive your refund. If your refund amount is different than the requested amount, you will receive a letter from the Department with additional information.
- Direct Deposit Issued - Please allow up to five (5) business days for your direct deposit to be received by your financial institution. If your refund amount is different than the requested amount, you will receive a letter from the Department with additional information.
This is the same information that is available to our phone representatives so there is no need to call unless the status message directs you to.
Fast tax tip: Direct deposit can be the most convenient way to receive your refund. This option is available to most taxpayers, whether you file electronically or on paper.
Please note, if you have
an outstanding balance owed to another public agency,
your refund may be used to pay the amount due before you receive any remaining refund.