How to Track Down Your Tax Refund

by Victoria Lee Blackstone ; Updated March 15, 2018

The time you spend waiting for your tax refund may seem like an eternity. Whether you’re counting on the refund to pay bills or to take a vacation, you may feel like you’re caught in a hurry-up-and-wait game. But in today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever to chart the progress of your tax refund.

Track Your Refund With a Mobile Device

Download IRS2Go, which is the official mobile app of the IRS. You can download the app from Google Play, the Apple App store or Amazon. Quick links to these download locations are available at IRS.gov by doing a search for "IRS2Go mobile app." IRS2Go is available for English and Spanish-speaking taxpayers.

Track Your Refund Online

From IRS.gov, choose the menu button that’s labeled “Refunds.” This will take you to a page where you can click “Check My Refund Status.” When the tracking page loads, you’ll need to enter your Social Security Number, your filing status and your exact whole-dollar refund amount.

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How Soon after Filing Can You Check Your Refund Status?

Whether you're tracking your refund using the IRS2Go app or the IRS online option, the results are dependent on the same time frames. If you filed your return electronically, you can check the status of your refund within 24 hours. If you mailed your return, you’ll have to wait about four weeks to check your refund status.

When to Call the IRS

The IRS issues most tax refunds within 21 days after you file, particularly if you have filed your return electronically. But if you mailed your tax return, it could take up to six weeks to receive your refund. If it’s already been more than 21 days after you filed electronically, more than six weeks after you mailed your return, or if your online tracking efforts result in receiving a message to contact the IRS, call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

EITC/ACTC Credits May Delay Your Refund

What may delay your refund, regardless of which method you used to file, is whether you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Care Tax Credit (ACTC). Legislation prevents the IRS from issuing EITC/ACTC-related refunds before mid-February. In 2018, this means the funds will not hit your account until February 27, if you’ve chosen direct deposit as your method of payment.

What is the Fastest Way to Get Your Refund?

Eight out of 10 taxpayers have learned one secret to quicker refunds: direct deposit. By using this electronic option, which deposits your refund directly into your bank account, you’ll receive your funds more quickly than waiting for a check in the mail. And you'll receive your refund even faster by choosing to file your return electronically in addition to choosing direct deposit. The IRS issues refunds in less than 21 days to more than nine out of 10 taxpayers who choose these two filing options. You do not have to pay a fee to receive your refund by direct deposit.

About the Author

Victoria Lee Blackstone is a horticulturist and a professional writer who has authored research-based scientific/technical papers, horticultural articles, and magazine and newspaper articles. After studying botany and microbiology at Clemson University, Blackstone was hired as a University of Georgia Master Gardener Coordinator. She is also a former mortgage acquisition specialist for Freddie Mac in Atlanta, GA.

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