You’ve got the questions. We’ve got the answers.
The best way to check your return’s status is to use the Where’s My Refund tool on the IRS website.
Don’t call the IRS unless Where’s My Refund tells you to. Calling the IRS unnecessarily will just bog them down and make things slower for everyone, including you.
The IRS updates statuses on Where’s My Refund every 24 hours – usually at night – so you only need to check once a day. Checking more often is not only unnecessary but could cause the entire system to crash, preventing you from being able to check your status at all.
Before you check your status you should wait 24-72 hours after e-filing or 3-4 weeks after mailing a paper return to give the IRS time to receive and process your return.
In order to access your refund status you will need your Social Security number, filing status, and exact refund amount. This means you will probably need a copy of your return handy.
How long does it usually take to get a refund?
The IRS claims that most refunds are issued within 21 calendar days of receiving an e-filed return. For the most part, they’re pretty good. However, don’t be surprised if you experience a delay of several weeks or even months, as they are relatively common. This is especially true since the IRS has really been hammering down on identity theft.
Note that refunds from a paper return take 6 to 8 weeks to process. This means that the absolute fastest way to get your refund is to e-file.
What are some causes of delay?
If your refund takes longer than 21 days, the delayed could be caused by a variety of reasons:
- IRS backlog – When most people don’t get their refund within the estimated time range they begin to panic and assume they’re being audited. However, most of the time it’s just general IRS incompetence. Expect processing to be delayed during busy times, especially if you file right after e-file opens in January or right before the April deadline.
- Incorrect info – One of the biggest causes of preventable delays is incorrect information, and not about the complicated tax stuff, about basic personal info. Before you e-file your return make sure your name, Social Security number, address, and direct deposit bank account details are all correct. A simple typo could result in a delayed refund.
- PATH Act Tax Related – The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act was put into action for the 2017 tax season. What does this mean for you? If you claimed the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) or ACTC (Additional Child Tax Credit) on your 2016 tax return, you won’t see your refund until after February 15th, 2017. Why? The IRS is taking additional steps in stopping fraudulent returns from being filed.
There’s an app for that…
The IRS also has a mobile app, IRS2Go. Ya know, if you really need to check the status of your refund… like right now.