RefundTalk.com - Where's My Refund Updates & Resources for the 2020 Tax Filing Season!

Where’s my Refund? Updates

When can I file my tax return?

The first day the IRS officially starts approving your 2020 tax return is February 12, 2021. However, many tax software programs will allow you to complete your return and “file” it starting January 2, 2021. They will then hold the returns until the IRS begins accepting them.

When are taxes due?

The deadline to submit your 2020 tax return and pay your tax bill is ‪Thursday, April 15, 2021. ‬If you can’t meet the tax filing deadline, you can file for an extension. But the sooner you file, the sooner you can receive your tax refund.

How long does it take to process a tax return?

How long it takes to process a return depends on many factors, including whether you e-file or file a paper return. As you might have guessed, e-filing results in much quicker turnaround time. Paper returns have to be manually entered into the system and can remain in the queue for several days (or longer) before they can be processed. Of course, the complexity of your return also affects how long it takes to process your return.

How long does it take to receive my tax refund?

The IRS has a goal of getting tax refunds to taxpayers within 21 days. They reach this goal about 90% of the time. In fact, most people receive their refunds in about 10-14 days. In previous years, the IRS created a schedule for when they will send out federal tax refunds via direct deposit or by check. The general rule of thumb is that direct deposits will be sent out a few days before paper checks are sent out (the delay for a paper check can actually take up to one week, depending on how many refunds the IRS has to process).

Are there any expected tax refund delays?

Yes. The IRS is required to hold tax refunds for taxpayers who claim Earned Income Tax Credits and Additional Child Tax credit until at least Feb. 15, 2021. Keep in mind it can still take a week to receive a refund after the IRS releases it. So some people who file early may experience delays while awaiting their refund. Refunds should be processed normally after this date. Also note that new identity theft protection and anti-fraud measures may hold up some refunds, as some tax returns may be held for further review.

2021 IRS E-File Schedule for Direct Deposit and Check Refund Dates

In previous years, the IRS would publish a refund cycle chart showing when a particular tax return would be deposited into a taxpayer’s bank account if they elected Direct Deposit of their refund. This was true if the return was electronically filed and a refund was due to the taxpayer.  However, as a result of numerous fraud issues that have plagued the IRS community over the recent past, they have discontinued the use of this “Refund Cycle” chart and Publication 2043 has been revised.

Check out our 2021 Tax Refund Schedule for an Estimated Direct Deposit Date Here!

Publication 2043 “IRS E-file Refund Cycle Chart” has been renamed “IRS Refund Information Guidelines for the Tax Preparation Community.” The new Publication 2043 is no longer a chart showing the refund cycle time frames. Instead, it provides guidance for taxpayers to check on their refunds. Taxpayers can also go on the IRS website and search “Where’s My Refund” to find information.

2020 IRS Publication 2043 - IRS Refund Information Guidelines for the Tax Preparation Community


Please note that the IRS is very clear that you shouldn’t plan your finances in anticipation of having your refund hit your bank account on any specific date. No tax schedule that you’ll see from any source can claim a guarantee of a date on which you’ll get your refund. Estimates like the ones above can be useful for your planning, but make sure you leave yourself some wiggle room in case your luck this tax season turns out to be bad.

2021 Tax Filing Season Important Dates & Deadlines

The table below shows 2021 deadlines for filing 2020 tax returns and requesting extensions. An important point to note is that while you can file your taxes anytime after the beginning of the year, the IRS will not process any returns (paper or electronic) until IRS e-File goes live.

2021 Tax Important Dates & Deadlines Tax Related Activity
January 2, 2021 The first day to file a 2020 tax return, though the IRS generally will not accept e-file and free file returns until the date below. Even paper-based filings won’t be processed until later in the month
January 31, 2021 Date by which you should have received a W-2 from employers you worked for during the tax year. If not, contact their HR/Payroll department to resend tax documents
February 1, 2021 Deadline for 1099 statements (factors in your AGI income) that report non-employee compensation, bank interest, dividends, and distributions from a retirement plan. This date is also the deadline for self-employed individuals to file and pay in full their fourth-quarter estimated tax payment
February 12, 2021 IRS E-file to go live, allowing submission of electronic tax returns for the vast majority of tax filers. Paper tax returns will begin processing from this date as well
February 16, 2021 PATH Message will lift for EITC and ACTC-related tax refunds.
February 18, 2021 Financial institutions must mail out 1099-B, 1099-S and 1099-MISC forms by this date.
February 20, 2021 The first day Where's My Refund? ‎on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go mobile app will be updated for the vast majority of early filers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. Before Feb. 15, some taxpayers may see a projected date or a message that the IRS is processing their return. Taxpayers will not see a refund date on Where's My Refund? ‎or through their software packages until then.
March 3, 2021 The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to actually be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting the first week of March if there are no processing issues with the tax return and the taxpayer chose a direct deposit.
May 17, 2021 Deadline for filing state income tax returns (for most states) and extension requests
May 17, 2021 Tax Day* Last day for filing federal income tax returns and extension requests.
October 15, 2021 Filing extended 2020 federal and state income returns. Note: you still need to file an extension request by April 15th
April 15, 2024 Filing a 2020 tax amendment. You can file an amended or previous year return anytime, but you have a deadline of 3 years from the original due date to claim any tax refund.

IRS Opening Day

Year Weekday Date
2021 Friday Feb 12
2020 Monday Jan 27
2019 Monday Jan 28
2018 Monday Jan 29
2017 Monday Jan 23
2016 Tuesday Jan 19
2015 Tuesday Jan 20
2014 Friday Jan 31
2013 Wednesday Jan 30

Future Tax Day Observances

Year Weekday Date
2019 Monday April 15
2020 Wednesday July 15(Extended)
2021 Thursday April 15
2022 Monday April 18
2023 Monday April 17
2024 Monday April 15
2025 Tuesday April 15

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