What Is the Usual Turnaround Time to Get a Tax Refund?

The IRS sends the tax refund within 21 calendar days. Of course, the timeframe assumes your tax return is accurate and free of any red flags or errors. According to their website, the IRS processes the tax refund within the 21 calendar days timeframe approximately 9 out of 10 times. Interestingly, the IRS processes almost all the tax returns via direct deposit, about 92%.

It is important to note that the start date of your tax refund process differs on a case to case basis, as the process depends on how you send your tax returns. For people who file electronically, the IRS can only give the status of your tax return 24 hours after filing electronically. For direct mail, it can take up to four weeks, due to both travel time and IRS sorting out the paperwork.

Knowledge of how to check the federal tax status can make the whole tax ordeal simpler. You can log in to the IRS website to get an update. If you want to talk to a person, you can call the IRS at 800-829-1954.

Once you confirm the status and availability of the tax refund, you can check whether the IRS has sent the tax refund. For those who filed for the tax return accurately and have no pending reviews or delays, the IRS sends the refund within 21 calendar days.

If you have applied or sent the tax documents via direct mail, you may have to wait an additional six weeks on top of the four weeks that the IRS needs to sort the paperwork to receive the tax refund in the form of a physical check.

However, certain circumstances can delay your receipt of the tax refund.

What Makes a Tax Refund Delayed?

Due to the complexity and ever-changing guidelines for taxes, people can easily make a few errors without knowing. There are two main reasons why there are delays for tax refunds.

The first reason lies in the law; some special circumstances, like having an Additional Child Tax Credit, receiving a manual review. The law requires the IRS to focus on an individual taxpayer. Other examples of events or circumstances that can delay your tax refund include recent civil status change like marriage or divorce, qualifying for an Earned Income Tax Credit, and a spouse needing to file the taxes of an injured or incapacitated spouse.

The second reason relates more to human errors. Examples include an incomplete tax return or the IRS giving your tax return a red flag due to reports of identity theft or fraud. Typos can mean delays for you as well. Lastly, stronger privacy and banking protection afforded by the law has made the timeframe of sending and receiving payments longer.

Sometimes, a taxpayer just gets unlucky; the IRS makes random tax audits, and you just happened to get the short end of the stick. However, if you answer the tax documents accurately and you have nothing to hide, the IRS can finish their job, and you can get your tax refund quicker.

How Can I Receive Them?


There are two main methods; you can opt for the faster direct deposit, or just wait for a physical check to arrive in your mail.

There are also some creative ways to grow and invest your tax refund. If you have chosen to receive the refund via direct deposit, you can have it routed to an account under your Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or SEP IRA. You can also buy U.S. Treasury bonds if you want to diversify to loan-based investments.

Other possible accounts that can receive your tax refund directly include a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA), a Health Savings Account (HSA), Savings Bonds by the U.S. series and others.

What Is the Tax Refund Process?

The tax refund timeframe is primarily influenced by the filing method and the payment receipt option chosen.

To reiterate, the fastest method to receive the tax refund is by filing the tax return electronically and opting to receive the refund via direct deposit.

The longest method is through sending the tax documents via mail and opting to receive the refund check via mail.

Of course, you can opt to file electronically and receive the check physically. Another option is through filing the tax process via mail and then choosing to receive the refund via direct deposit.

How Long Does It Take to Get My Tax Refund via Direct Deposit?

Assuming that there are no complications and delays, a tax refund check via direct deposit can already be in your account within 25 calendar days. This timeframe includes both the 21 calendar days the IRS need to review as well as the usual 3 to 5 business days for banks to receive the check.

How Long Does It Take to Get Tax Refund Once Mailed?

In a nutshell, the tax refund process solely via direct mail can take 2 to 3 months. Generally, the IRS receives and reviews the paperwork in 6 weeks for the tax status and approval. You can then add 6 to 8 weeks for sending the check and then receiving the refund in your mail.

Are There Any Other Vital Details to Know?

The easiest method to check the status of your tax refund is with the Where’s My Refund section of the IRS. Just remember to have your Social Security or ITIN, the current filing status of your tax refund, and your exact refund amount at hand.

For taxpayers, being too early can lead to delays. Under the law, the IRS must finish the processing and review of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or an Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) and other vital events after February 17, or the nearest business day.

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