How quickly will I get my refund?

The IRS issue most refunds in less than 21 calendar days.

I’m counting on my refund for something important. Can I expect to receive it in 21 days?

Many different factors can affect the timing of your refund after the IRS receives your return. Even though they issue most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible your refund may take longer. Also, remember to take into consideration the time it takes for your financial institution to post the refund to your account or for you to receive it by mail.

It’s been longer than 21 days since the IRS received my return and I haven’t gotten my refund. Why?

Some tax returns take longer to process than others for many reasons, including when a return:

The IRS will contact you by mail if they need more information to process your return.

I claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on my tax return. When can I expect my refund?

According to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS cannot issue EITC and ACTC refunds before mid-February. The IRS expects most EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards by the first week of March if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return. Check Where’s My Refund for your personalized refund date.

Where’s My Refund? on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go mobile app remains the best way to check the status of a refund. WMR on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go app will be updated with projected deposit dates for most early EITC/ACTC refund filers by February 22. So EITC /ACTC filers will not see an update to their refund status for several days after Feb. 15. 

Will calling you help me get my refund any faster?

No. phone and walk-in representatives can only research the status of your refund 21 days after you filed electronically; 6 weeks after you mailed your paper return; or if Where’s My Refund? directs you to contact them.

What information does Where’s My Refund? have?

It has information on the most recent tax year refund the IRS has on file for you.

When can I start checking Where’s My Refund? for my refund’s status?

24 hours after we’ve received your electronically filed tax return or 4 weeks after you’ve mailed a paper tax return.

Will Where’s My Refund? show me when I’ll receive my refund?

Where’s My Refund? will give you a personalized date after they process your return and approve your refund.

How will I know you’re processing my tax return?

Where’s My Refund? follows your tax return from receipt to completion. It will tell you when your return is in received status and if your refund is in approved or sent status.

What is happening when Where’s My Refund? shows my tax return status as received?

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They have received your tax return and are processing it.

What is happening when Where’s My Refund? shows my refund’s status as approved?

The IRS has approved your tax refund. They will begin preparing to send your refund to your bank or directly to you in the mail. This status will tell you when they will send the refund to your bank (if you selected the direct deposit option). Please wait 5 days after they’ve sent the refund to check with your bank about your refund since banks vary in how and when they credit funds. (It could take several weeks before you receive a mailed refund check.)

How long will it take for my status to change from return received to refund approved?

Sometimes a few days, but it could take longer.

Does Where’s My Refund? always display my refund status showing the different stages of return received, refund approved and refund sent?

No, not always. Sometimes, when they are still reviewing your tax return, instead, it will display instructions or an explanation of what they are doing.

Does Where’s My Refund? update often?

Once per day, usually at night. There’s no need to check more often.

Will Where’s My Refund? give me my amended return’s status?

No, it won’t give you information about amended tax returnsWhere’s My Amended Return? can give you the status of your amended return. (IRS phone and walk-in representatives can only research the status of your amended return 16 weeks or more after you’ve mailed it.)

I requested a direct deposit refund. Why are you mailing it to me as a paper check?

There are three possible reasons. They are as follows:

  • The IRS can only deposit refunds electronically into accounts in your own name, your spouse’s name or in a joint account.
  • A financial institution may reject a direct deposit.
  • The IRS can’t deposit more than three electronic refunds into a single financial account.

Why is my refund different than the amount on the tax return I filed?

All or part of your refund may have been used (offset) to pay off past-due federal tax, state income tax, state unemployment compensation debts, child support, spousal support, or other federal nontax debts, such as student loans. To find out if you may have an offset or if you have questions about an offset, contact the agency to which you owe the debt.

The IRS also may have changed your refund amount because they made changes to your tax return. You’ll get a notice explaining the changes. Where’s My Refund? will reflect the reasons for the refund offset when it relates to a change in your tax return.

Tax Topic 203 – Refund Offsets for Unpaid Child Support, Certain Federal and State Debts, and Unemployment Compensation Debts has more information about refund offsets.

What should I do when the refund I receive is not from my tax account?

Please don’t cash the refund check or spend the direct deposit refund. Send the refund back to the IRS. Tax Topic 161 – Returning an Erroneous Refund – Paper Check or Direct Deposit has more information on what to do.

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