Tax refund late? The IRS may owe you interest

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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 24: A sign stands outside the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building on May 24, 2013 in Washington, DC. The IRS is one of at least four federal agencies that is closed today due to the automatic sequestration cuts forced government agencies giving employee's an unpaid furlough. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 169548968 ORIG FILE ID: 169408534

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 24: A sign stands outside the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building on May 24, 2013 in Washington, DC. The IRS is one of at least four federal agencies that is closed today due to the automatic sequestration cuts forced government agencies giving employee's an unpaid furlough.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 169548968 ORIG FILE ID: 169408534

By Tina Orem

The IRS imposes plenty of consequences on taxpayers who miss its April filing deadline, including late-filing penalties, late-payment penalties, and interest on overdue tax bills. But you get to hold the IRS accountable for missing a deadline, too. Here’s what you need to know:

•The IRS has a deadline for paying refunds. Most taxpayers receive their refunds within three weeks of filing, but it can take longer, says Paul Herman, a certified public accountant based in White Plains, New York. And if the IRS doesn’t issue yours within 45 days of accepting your return, it owes you interest for each additional day.

The clock starts on the April tax deadline or the date you filed, whichever is later. But filing two years late and finding out you were owed a refund the whole time doesn’t entitle you to two years of interest, Herman warns.

•You probably won’t have to bill the IRS. The IRS automatically adds any interest it owes to your refund, according to Cindy Hockenberry, director of education and research for the National Association of Tax Professionals.

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