Electronic filing of your tax return is the fastest way to obtain a refund, both from the Internal Revenue Service and your state revenue department. The IRS states that nine out of 10 taxpayers will receive their refund in 21 days or less of their return being accepted. After the return has been accepted by the IRS, anxious filers can check tax return status online at the agency's website, or with the IRS2Go mobile app.
Most taxpayers who E-file can expect their refund within 21 days or less of the IRS accepting their return.
Tax Refund Timeline
Some tax professionals and software products may offer you additional options for receiving your refund. You may be able to obtain a pre-paid Visa card or other type of cash card. You may also be able to pay your tax preparation fees this way, often called a refund transfer. These options incur additional fees and do not result in obtaining your refund any faster. Some tax stores also offer a refund anticipation loan, which lends you a portion of your refund, usually up to $1,000. These loans bear exorbitant interest rates, often in excess of 300 percent annual percentage rate, and require significant fees. The remainder of your refund does not come any faster from using a refund anticipation loan and may actually take longer because it must come through the lender.
Checking on a Refund
If you have not received your refund by the expected date, or as soon as 24 hours after the agency has received your electronic return, you can check on its status through the IRS' "Where's My Refund" tool. You will need your Social Security number, your filing status and the exact amount of your refund.
- IRS: Publication 2043, IRS Refund Guidelines For Tax Professionals
- IRS: Where's My Refund?
- IRS: IRS2Go Mobile App
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- Taxpayer Advocate Service. "Refund Offsets." Accessed March 1, 2020.
Jassen Bowman is an IRS-licensed enrolled agent who specializes in IRS collections representation, small business tax law and international tax treaties. He has also served as a licensed real estate broker and investor. Bowman holds a Bachelor of Science in nuclear engineering technology.