Where’s My Tax Refund? How to Check Your Refund Status

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The average direct deposit tax refund was over $3,000 last tax season, and with tax season now over, it’s no surprise that the most common tax season-related question we’re now hearing is: “Where’s My Refund?”

We know that you work hard for your money and that your tax refund may be the biggest check you get all year, so we’re here to let you know what happened after you hit the e-file button and how to check the status of your tax refund.

The IRS issues all tax refunds — TurboTax does not issue the actual refund. If you have an IRS acknowledgment, then they are processing the return. Here is a breakdown of IRS processing times, how your tax return will progress through the three (3) stages with the IRS; (“Return Received,” “Return Approved,” and “Refund Sent” once you e-file), and where you can go to check your refund status.

Refund Processing Time

  • E-filed tax returns with direct deposit: E-file with direct deposit is the fastest way to get your federal tax refund. The IRS states that nine out of 10 e-filed tax returns with direct deposit will be processed within 21 days of IRS e-file acceptance.
  • Mailed paper returns: If you filed a paper return, please allow 4 weeks before checking the status. Refund processing time is 6 to 8 weeks from the date the IRS receives your tax return.

Refund Process

  • Start checking status 24 – 48 hours after e-file: Once you have e-filed your tax return, you can check your status using IRS Where’s My Refund? You will not be able to start checking the status of your tax refund for 4 weeks if you mail a paper tax return. Please note you will need the following information when checking on your refund status: Social security number or ITIN, your filing status and your exact refund amount.
  • Return Received Notice within 24 – 48 hours after e-file: The IRS Where’s My Refund? tool will show “Return Received” status once they begin processing your tax return. You will need the following information when checking refund status: Social security number or ITIN, your filing status and your exact federal tax refund amount shown on the tax return. You will not see a tax refund date until the IRS finishes processing your tax return and approves your tax refund.
  • Status change from “Return Received” to “Refund Approved”: Once the IRS finishes processing your tax return and confirms your tax refund is approved, your status will change from “Return Received” to “Refund Approved.” While the change in status can take a few days, it could also take longer, and a refund date will not be provided in Where’s My Refund? until your tax return is processed and your tax refund is approved.
  • Where’s My Refund? tool shows refund date: The IRS will provide a personalized refund date once your status moves to “Refund Approved.” The IRS issues nine out of 10 refunds within 21 days of acceptance if you e-file with direct deposit.
  • Where’s My Refund? shows “Refund Sent”: If the status in Where’s My Refund? shows “Refund Sent,” the IRS has sent your tax refund to your financial institution for direct deposit. It can take 1 to 5 days for your financial institution to deposit funds into your account. If you opted to receive your tax refund via mail, it could take several weeks for your check to arrive.

Here are more answers to some common tax refund questions:

Will I see a date right away when I check the status in “Where’s My Refund”? 

Where’s My Refund tool will not give you a date until your tax return is received, processed and your tax refund is approved by the IRS.

It’s been longer than 21 days since the IRS has received my tax return and I have not received my tax refund. What’s happening?

Some tax returns take longer than others to process depending on your tax situation. Some of the reasons it may take longer include incomplete information, an error, or the IRS may need to review it further.

I requested my money be automatically deposited into my bank account, but I was mailed a check. What happened?

The IRS is limiting the number of direct deposits that go into a single bank account or prepaid debit card to three tax refunds per year. Your limit may have been exceeded.

Haven’t filed your taxes yet? Get that much closer to your tax refund and file today. You may even be able to e-file your federal and state tax returns for free with TurboTax Free Edition and have your federal tax refund in your pocket within 21 days.

Don’t worry about knowing tax laws. TurboTax will ask simple questions about you and your income to give you the tax deductions and credits you are eligible for based on your answers. If you have questions, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent with an average of 15 years of experience to get your tax questions answered. TurboTax Live CPAs and Enrolled Agents are available in English and Spanish and can also review, sign, and file your tax return.

Comments (2,004) Leave your comment

  1. It’s my first time filing. How long does it take for me receive my federal refund. I’ve also recently received my state tax. How long do I have to wait.? I worked hard for money and didn’t do anything illegal.

    1. Hi Jocelyn,

      If you have an IRS acknowledgement then they are processing the return. If the return has been accepted then check the status of the tax refund via IRS “Where’s My Refund?” tool, https://www.irs.gov/refunds.

      Please note you will need the following information when checking on your refund status:
      Social security number or ITIN
      Your filing status
      Your exact refund amount

      However, per the IRS; a phone representative can research the status of your refund if it’s been 21 days or more since you filed electronically.

      Thank you

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