The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on January xx, 2021, with nearly 150 million individual tax returns expected to be filed in 2020. The nation’s tax deadline will be April 15 this year.

Many software companies and tax professionals will be accepting tax returns before Jan. 2x and then will submit the returns when IRS systems open.  The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically for faster refunds.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that, by law, the IRS cannot issue refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. While the IRS will process those returns when received, it cannot issue related refunds before mid-February. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting the first week of March if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.  Where’s My Refund should start showing updates on or after Feb. 20, 2021. 

The IRS no longer publishes a tax refund schedules, but they continue to issue guidance stating most taxpayers will receive their refund within 21 days. So we have used IRS guidelines, statements, and historic tax return data to create an IRS e-file cycle chart, which we have published on this page. We have also included additional tax return information, such as a list of important dates and Frequently Asked Questions regarding IRS tax refund dates. It’s important to note the tax refund cycle code charts our an estimate and represents when the majority of tax returns should be processed.

The table below shows an approximation of when your federal tax refund should be directly deposited into your bank account or the date your paper check should arrive by mail. This table is based on previous year tax return charts. Remember, this is only an estimation and not a guarantee.

How to use this tax refund cycle code chart: This schedule only applies to tax returns filed electronically. The left column represents the date your tax refund was accepted by the IRS. Followed by the estimated direct deposit and paper check mailing dates. This chart does not apply to tax refunds filed by mail because it takes the IRS much longer to manually process returns. There is no tax refund schedule for paper returns because it is difficult to know when the IRS will physically process your return.

2021 Tax Refund Schedule for Tax Refunds not affected by PATH ACT Laws

Individual Tax Returns not claiming the following credits

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC)
Date Accepted 2021 Direct Deposit Date 2021 Mailed Check Date
Refunds without PATH ACT HOLD Refunds without PATH ACT HOLD
TEST BATCH Jan 10 - 17, 2021 Wednesday, January 27, 2021 Friday, January 29, 2021
TEST BATCH Jan 18 - 24, 2021 Wednesday, February 3, 2021 Friday, February 5, 2021
Jan 25 - Jan 31, 2021 Wednesday, February 10, 2021 Friday, February 12, 2021
Feb 1 - 7, 2021 Wednesday, February 17, 2021 Friday, February 19, 2021
Feb 8 - 14, 2021 Wednesday, February 24, 2021 Friday, February 26, 2021
Feb 15 - 21, 2021 Wednesday, March 3, 2021 Friday, March 5, 2021
Feb 22 - Feb 28, 2021 Wednesday, March 10, 2021 Friday, March 12, 2021
Mar 1 - 7, 2021 Wednesday, March 17, 2021 Friday, March 19, 2021
Mar 8 - 14, 2021 Wednesday, March 24, 2021 Friday, March 26, 2021
Mar 15 - 21, 2021 Wednesday, March 31, 2021 Friday, April 2, 2021
Mar 22 - 28, 2021 Wednesday, April 7, 2021 Friday, April 9, 2021
Mar 29 - Apr 4, 2021 Wednesday, April 14, 2021 Friday, April 16, 2021
Apr 5 - 11, 2021 Wednesday, April 21, 2021 Friday, April 23, 2021
Apr 12 - 18, 2021 Wednesday, April 28, 2021 Friday, April 30, 2021
Apr 19 - 25, 2021 Wednesday, May 5, 2021 Friday, May 7, 2021
Apr 26 - May 2, 2021 Wednesday, May 12, 2021 Friday, May 13, 2021
May 3 - 9, 2021 Wednesday, May 19, 2021 Friday, May 21, 2021
May 10 - 16, 2021 Wednesday, May 26, 2021 Friday, May 26, 2021
May 17 - 23, 2021 Wednesday, June 2, 2021 Friday, June 4, 2021
May 24 - May 30, 2021 Wednesday, June 9, 2021 Friday, June 11, 2021
May 31 - June 6, 2021 Wednesday, June 16, 2021 Friday, June 18, 2021

*** This table is based on past trends & general guidelines. This has not been issued by IRS & cannot be relied upon for exact timelines for refunds.

2021 Tax Refund Schedule for Tax Refunds HELD by PATH ACT Laws

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act (aka “PATH Act”) prevents the IRS from issuing early refunds on any tax return claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and/or Additional Child Tax Credit. Because identity thieves frequently claim one or both of these refundable tax credits, this measure gives the IRS extra time to detect fraudulently-filed returns, which in turn helps identity theft victims get their legitimate refunds more quickly. The IRS will begin issuing tax refunds on returns with the EIC or Additional Child Tax Credits after February 15, 2021. If your return contains either of these credits, you can track its status at the IRS Where’s My Refund site starting on February 20, 2021.

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Individual Tax Returns claiming the following credits will see a delay in refund timing

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC)
Date Accepted 2021 Direct Deposit Date 2021 Mailed Check Date
PATH ACT REFUNDS⬇ PATH ACT REFUNDS⬇
TEST BATCH Jan 11 - 17, 2021 ⬇ON HOLD⬇ ⬇ON HOLD⬇
TEST BATCH Jan 18 - 24, 2021 ⬇ON HOLD⬇ ⬇ON HOLD⬇
Jan 25 - Jan 31, 2021 ⬇ON HOLD⬇ ⬇ON HOLD⬇
Feb 1 - 7, 2021 ⬇ON HOLD⬇ ⬇ON HOLD⬇
Feb 8 - 14, 2021 FIRST Batch of PATH Hold Refunds Wednesday, February 24, 2021 FIRST Batch of PATH Hold Refunds Friday, February 26, 2021
Feb 15 - 21, 2021 Second Batch of PATH Hold Refunds Wednesday, March 3, 2021 Second Batch of PATH Hold Refunds Friday, March 5, 2021
Feb 22 - Feb 28, 2021 Wednesday, March 10, 2021 Friday, March 12, 2021
Mar 1 - 7, 2021 Wednesday, March 17, 2021 Friday, March 19, 2021
Mar 8 - 14, 2021 Wednesday, March 24, 2021 Friday, March 26, 2021
Mar 15 - 21, 2021 Wednesday, March 31, 2021 Friday, April 2, 2021
Mar 22 - 28, 2021 Wednesday, April 7, 2021 Friday, April 9, 2021
Mar 29 - Apr 4, 2021 Wednesday, April 14, 2021 Friday, April 16, 2021
Apr 5 - 11, 2021 Wednesday, April 21, 2021 Friday, April 23, 2021
Apr 12 - 18, 2021 Wednesday, April 28, 2021 Friday, April 30, 2021
Apr 19 - 25, 2021 Wednesday, May 5, 2021 Friday, May 7, 2021
Apr 26 - May 2, 2021 Wednesday, May 12, 2021 Friday, May 14, 2021
May 3 - 9, 2021 Wednesday, May 19, 2021 Friday, May 21, 2021
May 10 - 16, 2021 Wednesday, May 26, 2021 Friday, May 28, 2021
May 17 - 23, 2021 Wednesday, June 2, 2021 Friday, June 4, 2021
May 24 - May 30, 2021 Wednesday, June 9, 2021 Friday, June 11, 2021
May 31 - June 6, 2021 Wednesday, June 16, 2021 Friday, June 18, 2021

*** This table is based on past trends & general guidelines. This has not been issued by IRS & cannot be relied upon for exact timelines for refunds.

Check Out 2020 IRS E-File Refund Cycle Charts

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