What Does "Federal Return Status Accepted" Mean?

by Karen Adams ; Updated April 16, 2018
Start checking your refund status after 72 hours from acceptance.

Once you file taxes, whether on your own or through a tax preparer, you'll receive a message that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accepted your federal return. The message is nearly automatic for most taxpayers. Before filing, it is important that you double-check all of your exemptions and personal information to eliminate any errors that might alter your refund.

Receive an Initial Acceptance

When you file your tax return, the IRS checks your basic information, such as social security number and address, for legitimacy. If there are no data errors, the return is usually accepted. You'll know the government accepted your return when you receive an electronic notification that says something like "we've accepted your tax return." After this, your return enters the processing stage, where the IRS checks all of your exemptions and credits for inaccuracies.

Check the Expected Refund Date

After filing the return and receiving the acceptance message, the only thing to do is wait for the IRS to check your tax return. Along with the initial acceptance, you are given a date to expect your refund payment. There are a few different ways to receive payment. Depending on what type you chose, your date may be as little as 10 days or as long as 21 days. Direct deposit is always faster than requesting a check.

Wait for Payment Delivery

If you filed your tax return on-line, then you probably were also able to accept an e-check refund payment. Typically, these take from 10 to 14 days depending on your bank's direct deposit process. This payment takes the shortest amount of time to receive. Paper payments take longer to process and mail. While the payment may be mailed after 21 days, you'll still need to calculate time in for the delivery.

Check Your Tax Refund Status

After 24 hours from receiving the "Federal Return Status Accepted" message, you can check your refund status on the IRS website at irs.gov. If you mailed your return, you'll need to wait four weeks. You can also call the Refund Hotline at 800-829-1954. You need to have your social security number, refund amount and filing status on hand to get information on your refund.

Watch for Changes

The "Federal Return Status Accepted" message does not mean that you will automatically receive a refund. For instance, you may owe back payments to the IRS, which deducts the amount from the refund. You may have filed inaccurate exceptions, which either subtract or add to your refund amount. Besides checking your refund status, you must wait for the IRS to contact you about any discrepancies or issues with your refund.

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About the Author

Karen Adams has been writing professionally since 2003. At the University of Florida, she worked on the school's newspaper while earning her Bachelor of Arts in English. She contributes to many different publications regularly. Currently she lives and works in Florida and is a member of Florida University's Fiction Collective and "Tea Magazine."

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