Over 150 million Americans received a tax refund in 2017 with the average payment equaling $2,895. Tax refunds can help with bills, buy a used car to get around and even fund a family vacation. Once you complete your tax form, you'll see whether you owe money or are getting a refund. For refunds, you may want to know when you can expect to receive the money. There are a few factors that determine the answer such as whether you request a refund in the form of a check or direct deposit.
The General Rule
Most years, taxpayers are required to submit their taxes by April 15th, although the date fell on the 17th for the year 2018. If you want to receive your tax refund early, and you have all your documents ready, you can submit the return around January 29th when the IRS begins accepting returns. Some e-file programs, such as TurboTax, may allow you to submit the return even earlier, although the IRS won't accept it until the scheduled start date. From the date of acceptance, you can generally expect to receive your refund within three weeks. Keep in mind that you'll need to add in travel and processing time for returns that are mailed in.
Checking on Your Refund
The IRS does provide a handful of ways to check on the status of your tax refund. You can use the IRS's "Where’s My Refund?" tool available on the IRS.gov website or by downloading the IRS2Go app to your mobile device. You can also call the IRS at 800-829-1954 to check. The IRS updates the information in its system once every 24 hours, but the initial information won't be available until 72 hours after you first e-file or four weeks after you submit your return via the U.S. Postal Service. Be prepared to provide your Social Security number, your filing status and the amount of your refund so the IRS can look up your return. If checking online, once you hit "submit," you'll receive one of the following three responses: Return Received, Return Approved or Return Sent.
Taxpayers have more options than simply waiting for a paper check to arrive in the mail. Perhaps the most popular choice is direct deposit. Once the IRS tool lets you know the refund is on its way, you can expect the money to show up in your bank account within three to five business days. If you want your refund two days faster, consider the relatively new option of having the money placed on the prepaid American Express Serve card. Jackson Hewitt reports that the refund may even show up on the card the same day it is sent by the IRS.
- Jackson Hewitt Tax Service: Want to Check Your Return Status?
- Efile.com: Checking Your Tax Return and Tax Refund Status
- The Military Wallet: 2018 IRS Tax Refund Schedule (2017 Tax Year) – When Will I Receive My Tax Refund?
- Business Insider: Here's When You Can Expect Your Tax Refund to Hit Your Bank Account, According to the IRS
- CNN Money: Nearly 8 Out of 10 U.S. Taxpayers Get Refunds
- American Express Serve: Access Your Tax Refund up to 2 Days FASTER With American Express Serve
- Savings to Invest: 2017-2018 Tax Season – Average IRS and State Tax Refund and Processing Times
- 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.
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- 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.
Alicia Bodine is a New Jersey-based writer specializing in finance. With more than 13 years of experience, her work has appeared in LendingTree, GoBankingRates, Sapling, Zacks and budgeting.thenest.com.