What You Need to Know About Your IRS Tax Refund

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Estimating when you’ll get your IRS refund is much more straight-forward

When it comes to filing taxes, tax filers tend to go about it in various ways. Whether you filed your taxes as soon as you got your W -2’s or you’re waiting until the 11th hour, there are two common questions every filer asks.

  1. Where’s my tax refund?
  2. How much is my tax refund?

While IRS refund amounts (or the lack thereof) can vary across the board, estimating when you’ll get your IRS refund is much more straight-forward. However, knowing the what, where & when of your refund is important. Let’s learn how to navigate the IRS refund schedule so that you can track your refund from start to cha-ching!

How Does the IRS Refund Schedule Work?

How it’s worked before

In prior years, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provided an estimated date for when you could anticipate your refund. However, in 2016 (for the 2015 tax year), the IRS began a new tax audit system which included more comprehensive fraud analysis. Now, because some returns require more time to be processed, the previous estimated refund schedule isn’t as effective.

Busier parts of the tax season (late Jan–early Feb and mid April)

How it works now

In place of the estimated refund date listed on the old tax refund schedule, the IRS now issues tax refunds at the rate at which they process them. During the busier parts of the tax season (late Jan–early Feb and mid April), it can take longer for the IRS to process received returns. Here are some easy tips to use when navigating the IRS tax refund process.

IRS Where’s My Refund Tool

How to get my IRS refund faster E-Filing Taxes not only get to the IRS faster, they are processed faster as well. Most e-filed returns have refunds processed within 21 days of receipt, some in as few as 8 days.
How to receive my IRS refund When receiving your IRS tax refund, you can choose to receive it as a direct deposit (you can split your refund and have it sent to up to three accounts), a paper check mailed to your home, or choose to buy US Savings Bonds with your tax refund. You also have the option of applying your refund to future taxes owed.
Of the three refund options available, the Direct Deposit option is the fastest and safest option.
How to check the status of my IRS refund You can check the status of your IRS refund approximately 72 hours after you receive an IRS confirmation that they have processed your tax refund. If you mailed in your tax return, you will need to wait at least 3 weeks. The fastest way to check the status of your IRS tax refund is to visit the Where’s My Refund page on the IRS website, or, call 1-800-829-1954, or 1-800-829-4477, or 1-800-829-1040 and inquire about your tax return status with an IRS customer service representative.
Note that the IRS only updates tax return statuses once a week, on Wednesdays.
What You Need for Checking the IRS Refund Schedule When to Check the Status of Your IRS Refund Where to Check Your Scheduled IRS Refund Amount
Social Security Number Within 24 hours 1040EZ - line 13a
Filing Status 4 Weeks After Mailing Paper Return 1040 - line 76a
Exact Refund Amount Disclaimer: Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days after they receive your tax return, it’s possible your tax return may require additional review and take longer. 1040A - line 48a
What You Need for Checking the IRS Refund Schedule
  • Social Security Number
  • Filing Status
  • Exact Refund Amount
When to Check the Status of Your IRS Refund
  • Within 24 hours
  • 4 Weeks After Mailing Paper Return
  • Disclaimer: Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days after they receive your tax return, it’s possible your tax return may require additional review and take longer.
Where to Check Your Scheduled IRS Refund Amount
  • 1040EZ - line 13a
  • 1040 - line 76a
  • 1040A - line 48a

IRS Tax Refund Schedule FAQs

Top Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I file?

The first day to officially file your 2016 tax return was January 23, 2017. The busiest times for the IRS are late Jan to mid Feb and mid-April so the earlier you file, the better.

How long will it take to receive my refund?

You should receive your refund no later than 21 days from the day your tax return was accepted by the IRS. Most people receive their refund in an average of 10-14 days.

Could there be tax refund delays?

The IRS is required to hold tax refunds for taxpayers who claim Earned Income Tax Credits and Additional Child Tax Credit so tax delays are possible. Keep in mind that it can also take a week to receive the refund after the IRS releases it.

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