If you file your tax return electronically, the IRS will typically deposit your tax refund into your bank account within 21 days after it accepted your refund. It will take twice as long, or longer, if you mailed a paper return -- as long as six to eight weeks. If the IRS detects errors on your return or it is incomplete, your refund will be delayed.
Allocating the Refund
Fill out your bank information -- such as account and routing numbers -- on IRS Form 8888 to receive your refund by direct deposit. You can also use all or part of your refund to purchase a savings bond by selecting that option on this form. If you are an “innocent spouse,” meaning your spouse owes a debt that can be paid from your joint tax refund, you need to fill out Form 8379. Your accountant or income tax preparer can help determine if you are eligible for injured or innocent spouse relief.
The IRS allows you to check the status of your refund online. Use the search terms “check my tax refund status” on the IRS website or navigate to irs.gov/refunds. If you want an IRS representative to research your refund, you first must wait at least 21 days after the agency accepted your electronic filing, or six weeks after mailing your paper return.
- IRS: Topic 152 -- Refund Information
- IRS: Injured or Innocent Spouse Tax Relief
- IRS: Where’s My Refund?
- Internal Revenue Service. "Relief for Taxpayers," Page 3. Accessed Apr. 8, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Economic Impact Payment Information Center." Accessed Aug. 30, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Filing Season Statistics for March 2020." Accessed Apr. 8, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "IRS kicks off 2020 tax filing season." Accessed Apr. 8, 2020.
- Intrnal Revenue Service. "Tax Day Now July 15." Accessed Apr. 8, 2020.
- U.S. Congress. "H.R.748 - CARES Act." Accessed Apr. 8, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Where's My Refund?" Accessed Apr. 8, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed March 1, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "1040 and 2019 1040-SR," Pages 14, 60. Accessed March 1, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Interim Results of the 2019 Filing Season," Page 12. Accessed March 1, 2020.
- Federal Trade Commission. "Filing A Complaint." Accessed Aug. 30, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Topic No. 308 Amended Returns." Accessed March 1, 2020.
- Bureau of the Fiscal Service. "Tax Refund Offset." Accessed March 1, 2020.
- Taxpayer Advocate Service. "Refund Offsets." Accessed March 1, 2020.
Based in Central Texas, Karen S. Johnson is a marketing professional with more than 30 years' experience and specializes in business and equestrian topics. Her articles have appeared in several trade and business publications such as the Houston Chronicle. Johnson also co-authored a series of communications publications for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in speech from UT-Austin.