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

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With refund season well underway and the average direct deposit tax refund being over $3,000 last tax season, we are hearing the common tax season question: “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 happens after you hit the e-file button and how to check the status of your tax refund.

Here is a breakdown of IRS processing times, how your tax return will progress through 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: Refund processing time is 6 to 8 weeks from the date the IRS receives your tax return.

Refund Process

  1. Start checking status 24 – 48 hours after e-file: Once you have e-filed your tax return, you can check 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.
  2. 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 not see a tax refund date until the IRS finishes processing your tax return and approves your tax refund.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 your common tax refund questions:

Will I see a date right away when I check 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.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, signed into law in December 2015, requires the IRS to hold tax refunds that include Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until February 15, 2019, regardless of what method you used to file your taxes. The IRS began accepting and processing tax returns when they opened for the season on January 28, 2019. Tax refunds for those who claim Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit will begin to be issued on February 15, 2019, so there’s no need to wait! The sooner you e-file your tax return, the sooner you’ll get your tax refund. The IRS expects that the earliest that taxpayers claiming the EITC or ACTC will start seeing tax refunds is February 27, 2019, if taxpayers chose e-file with direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return.

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 you simple questions about you and 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. A TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent can also review, sign and file your tax return without you leaving the house.

Comments (1,460) Leave your comment

  1. i filed on 1/19 an carried my children but some people filed after me an carried children an thry got a date already mines is saying still processing whats wrong

    1. Hi Jose,
      Less than 1% of taxpayers are audited so I’m not sure why you think you will be audited. The IRS states that they will issue 9 out of 10 tax refunds within 21 days or less of acceptance if you e-file and direct deposit as long as nothing is missing from your return.
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  2. I filed and it was received on Feb 1st 2019… Feb 9th the one bar disappeared and it says YOUR TAX RETURN IS STILL BEING PROCESSED. A REFUND DATE WILL BE POSTED WHEN AVAILABLE. What does that mean???

    1. Hi Cynthia,
      The IRS expects to issue 9 out of 10 refunds within 21 days or less if you use e-file and direct deposit. If you claimed Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit the IRS will start issuing those refunds on 2/15, but I would check IRS Where’s My Refund for updates to your status.
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      1. I my taxes was filed on the 23rd accepted on thev24th I claimed two kids so should I see my refund before this month run out

  3. My federal refund indicates refund sent. I filed both federal and state together. I have received my state refund but not my federal, why? It has already been 5 days since refund was sent per “where’s my refund” website.

  4. I files at the last minute asking for an extension to September. I also included a check to cover what I thought would cover the balance.
    How long do I wait for a response? Where can I check the status?

    Thanks, Harry

  5. I paper filed my return. They received it on March 5th. I never got an acceptance, but my state return came in the mail on March 28th. Its been over six weeks and still nothing. My federal return was filed for direct deposit.They have no record of my information on file. Besides my state processing and I already received it. What should I do?

  6. What if you tried to e-file and couldn’t? I ended up mailing in my tax return, and would like to know how long it usually takes before acknowledgment of a “snail mail” return is received?

  7. My refund was suppose to be deposited in my account on April 11,2018, I’ve waited 24hrs, but the bank haven’t received it at all.. i have an offset of $178.00 what is going on with it or is its normal and i should just wait 5 days??

    1. Hi Tauric,
      It can take 1 to 5 days for your financial institution to deposit funds into your account so I would wait.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  8. I had filed my taxes on Feb 27th and they still haven’t cane in yet. And every time I call the irs to see where my refund is they are always stating that they can’t give me my information. I need to know where my money is, please help me.

  9. I submitted my 2017 Form 1040 and subsequently determined that I have additional 2017 income. I need to amend including amounts from Form 1099-DIV. I am due a refund per my original return. Should I wait until I receive my refund to submit my amended return and payment or is it better to submit right away?

    1. Hi Dave

      You should file the amendment ASAP. Any additional tax that is due on the amended return is due on or before the filing deadline of April 17, 2018. There could be potential penalties and interest on the additional tax not paid by the filing deadline. TurboTax will walk you through easily amending your tax return. Here are the instructions and more information on amending.

      Thank You
      TurboTax Derek

    2. Hi Dave,
      If you left out a form you should wait until your taxes are accepted before you amend. Once they are accepted you can amend. If it is not accepted you can go in and fix your tax return. If you leave out small amounts from a tax form the IRS may do an adjustment. If you are getting a tax refund, you should also wait until the check is issued. TurboTax will walk you through easily amending. Here is more information on amending your taxes https://blog.turbotax.intuit.com/tax-planning-2/when-do-i-amend-my-tax-return-10524/
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  10. I filed and have rec’d my refund. Now I got a corrected 1098 from my bank showing my mortgage insurance premiums in box 5. How do I amend my return? can I do that thru turbotax?

    1. Hello Carole

      Yes you can amend your tax return through TurboTax. The IRS does not accept electronic Amended returns so you will need to print out the return and mail it in. Many mortgage companies have reissued the form 1098 to now include the Mortgage Insurance Premiums in box 5. You can use TurboTax to file the amended return and claim this additional deduction on your taxes.

      Thank you

      TurboTax Derek

    1. Hello John and Shirley

      You are required to report all income on your tax return. If the 1099 was not reported on your original return you should amend the return and file with the IRS and the corresponding State if applicable. You can find the amended form 1040X in the TurboTax program, but be aware that you must mail in that return as the IRS is not set up to accept Efiling of the amended returns.

      Thank you

      TurboTax Derek

  11. Hello,
    I filed jointly with my husband on January 25th. I checked my status and it still shows “processing”. My sister in law submitted her 2 weeks after me and received hers on Friday. Why haven’t I received mine? Do I need to call the IRS? I have never had an issue in the previous years, and have done everything exactly the same. Do I call a local office?

    1. The IRS states that they will issue 9 out of 10 refunds within 21 days or less. You can call them since it’s been beyond 21 days.

  12. My name is Michelle. I filled my taxes January 27, it has been received and approved but I still haven’t received them yet, it’s been more than 30days.

  13. need to know why my refund is being held up? filed with turbo tax on 01/28/2018 and accepted on the 01/29/2018. turbo tax check and recheck all my W-2’s and all my S.S.A 1099’s.and my 1095’s for my insurances for my wife. i have V.A health coverage. checked everyday and still says being processed. now here it is 02/25/2018 and still no refund. been a customer for the last 20+ years and no problem. what going on. IRS has no clue. called with no help.

    1. Hi Tom,
      If the IRS accepted your tax return they received the electronically filed return. If it says they are processing they are reviewing your tax return. I would check the Where’s my refund tool again. You can also call them again since the IRS says you can call once you haven’t received your tax refund within 21 days.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  14. I was to get a 855 refund from my state then I got a bill from the state saying I owe 684…did a paper copy and came up with owing 104….now if I can convince the state of that…..what a pain….thanks for nothing but problems turbo tax…..federal was fine….probably go back to h & r block next year, never had a problem there

    1. Hi James,
      There are various reasons you can receive an adjustment or offset from the IRS. Some of them are:
      – Past due child support
      – Federal agency non-tax debts
      – State income tax debt
      – Certain unemployment compensation debts owed to a state

      You should receive an explanation of adjustments from the IRS and Treasury. Here is more information on treasury offsets
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

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