When filing tax returns, the second question everyone asks is “How long does it take to get my tax refund back?” Of course, the first question everyone asks is “How much is my refund?”

Tax Refund Direct Deposit versus Mail

If you want to get your refund faster, opt for the direct deposit route. Not only will the IRS send your money earlier via direct deposit, but you’ll cut down on the mailing time too.

IRS Tax Refund Schedule

How long does it take to get your tax refund back? The IRS eliminated the refund schedule that was used in prior years for both direct deposit and mailed refunds.

The guideline the IRS is using in 2018 for filing your 2017 tax return is: Don’t count on getting your refund by a certain date to make major purchases or pay other financial obligations. Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible your tax return may require additional review and take longer.

Essentially, they’re saying most people will get their refunds in less than 21 days (with the exception of the tax credit delays*), but there won’t be any schedules they will follow this year.


The IRS provides these tips to tax preparers to get the fastest tax refund:

  • File an accurate tax return.
  • Efile your tax return.
  • Use direct deposit with the correct bank account and routing number.
  • File by the tax deadline.
  • Use the correct mailing address and SSN for everyone listed on your return.

2018 Tax Refund Delays

*Delays for Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit.

Starting in 2017, tax refunds will be delayed until February 15 if you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. The IRS estimates that the delayed refunds may begin to show up during the week of February 27 for direct deposit.

How long can the IRS delay your refund? See How Long Can the IRS Delay Your Tax Refund?

IRS Tax Refund Status

You can track the status of your tax refund with the IRS tool Where’s My Refund? or the IRS Refund Tracker Tax App. You’ll see an estimated refund date once your return is processed.

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