We’ve based these timelines on historical data noting that most refunds will be issued by the IRS in less than 21 days after the return has been accepted. Certain things can affect the timing of your refund, including:  

  • How you sent your return – Sending your return electronically allows the IRS to process it faster than if you mail it in.  
  • When you filed – The earlier you file, the earlier your return could be processed.  
  • Which credits you claimed – Claiming certain credits can cause your refund to be delayed

What is the IRS refund schedule? 

The IRS typically sends out refunds on a schedule. This schedule varies by the method you sent your return in, when you file, and what credits you claim. See an estimated schedule in the chart below. 

Filing method and refund delivery methodHow long does it take to receive your refund from the time your return is accepted 
E-file and direct deposit1-3 weeks 
E-file and check1 month 
Mail in return and direct deposit 3 weeks 
Mail in return and check 2 months  

What happens after I e-file? 

After you submit your tax return electronically, the tax preparation software will time stamp your return and electronically send it to the IRS. Your return will then be in the hands of the IRS. They typically take the next 24-48 to review your information to make sure it is correct. If your personal information matches their records and you haven’t taken any credits or deductions that require further review, they will accept your return. You should receive an email notification once your return is accepted. After you receive confirmation, you can expect to receive your refund as soon as the IRS processes and completes your tax return. 

What does it mean when my tax return is accepted? 

When you receive confirmation that the IRS accepted your return, it means that they have reviewed your return, and it has passed their initial inspection. They verify your personal information and other basic items, like if your dependents have already been claimed by someone else. Then they have a few days to approve your refund. They will take a more in-depth look at your return and your history. After the IRS approves your return, they will fund your refund based on the schedule mentioned above.

Is it faster to file electronically or mail in my return? 

In most cases, it is faster to file your return electronically. The IRS receives these returns faster than ones that were mailed in, which shortens the time in between when you submitted your return and when you’ll receive your refund.  

File electronically and choose direct deposit to receive your refund sooner.

What tax breaks can affect the timing of my refund?  

If you are claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit, your refund is most likely going to be delayed. The IRS does not typically send out these refunds before mid-February, which means your refund will probably arrive in early March according to the IRS. 

Should I file my taxes early? 

Filing your tax return early can present many advantages to help you during the tax season. These include reducing stress, having more time to pay if you owe money on your taxes, and getting your tax refund sooner. 

What if I miss the deadline? 

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Taxes are due on Monday, April 15 each year. If you file your return after the deadline, you could be charged late filing fees and other penalties. The good news is if you need more time to file you can request an extension with the IRS. It is important to note that an extension does not give you more time to pay your taxes. It only gives you more time to file your return. In other words, if you owe money on your taxes, your payment is still due by April 15th. If you request an extension, will have six more months to send your return to the IRS. The deadline to submit extensions for the tax year 2021 is October 17, 2022. 

Are there any important tax dates to know? 

Yes, the following dates are important to keep in mind for tax season. 

  • Deadline to file and pay your tax bill if you have one is April 18, 2022 
  • Deadline to file an extended return is October 17, 2022
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