When you know you have a check coming, it's easy to be anxious about the status of your tax refund. Luckily, the Internal Revenue Service offers several ways for taxpayers to check up on their tax return. As a general rule, expect to receive your refund within a month or two after filing.
When to Expect Your Refund
Choosing to electronically file your return can speed up your return by weeks or even a month. According to the IRS, electronic filers should expect to receive refunds within 21 days of e-file acceptance. Paper filers must wait 6 to 8 weeks after the IRS receives the return. However, the vast majority of returns will arrive well before that date. The IRS also notes that taxpayers that offer direct deposit information will get returns faster than those who opt for a paper check by mail.
Checking the Status of Your Refund
The IRS usually has updated information for e-filers within 48 hours of the e-file acceptance. Paper taxpayers should wait a few weeks before checking for updates. The IRS advises taxpayers to use one of these three methods to check the status of a tax return:
- The "Where's My Refund?" website application tracks the status of a tax refund. E-filers will see a "Return Received" status after the IRS initially receives the tax return. The status will change to "Refund Approved" once the IRS confirms the information on the return. The IRS also will list an estimated date you should expect to receive the refund. Once the IRS mails or direct deposits your refund check, the status will say, "Refund Sent."
- Taxpayers may also download a free "IRS2GO" smartphone app. The app is available for both iPhones and Android devices. The download is available on the IRS website, on the Android marketplace and the Apple App store. Like the "Where's My Refund?" tool, the app will display the status of the tax return.
- Taxpayers can call a toll-free IRS hotline at 800-829-1954 to inquire regarding the status of a tax return. English and Spanish-speaking representatives are available.
If it's been more than 21 days since you e-filed or more than six weeks after you paper filed and you still haven't received a refund, you should definitely inquire with the IRS. After this amount of time has passed, an IRS agent can personally research the status of your tax return. Contact a representative by calling the hotline or through the "Where's My Refund?" web application.
- IRS.gov: Checking the Status of Your Refund
- TurboTax: Where's My Refund?
- IRS.gov: Topic 152
- IRS. "How to File." Accessed Oct. 26, 2020.
- IRS. "What to Expect for Refunds This Year." Accessed Oct. 26, 2020.
- IRS. "Filing Season Statistics for Week Ending December 27, 2019." Accessed Oct. 26, 2020.
- IRS. "Refunds." Accessed Oct. 26, 2020.
- IRS. "Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund." Page 1. Accessed Oct. 26, 2020.
- IRS. "Get Your Refund Faster: Tell IRS to Direct Deposit Your Refund to One, Two, or Three Accounts." Accessed Oct. 26, 2020.
- IRS. "FAQs. What Should I Do If I Entered An Incorrect Routing or Account Number for Direct Deposit of My Refund?" Accessed Oct. 26, 2020.
Based in San Diego, Calif., Madison Garcia is a writer specializing in business topics. Garcia received her Master of Science in accountancy from San Diego State University.