How to Check Your Tax Refund Status With the IRS

By Cameron McCool on January 19, 2017

Once you’ve filed your income tax return, you may be wondering how long it will take for your return to be processed—especially if you’re anticipating a tax refund this year.

In this guide, we’ll show you the easiest and quickest ways to check your refund status with the IRS.

When can I expect my tax refund?

If you’re expecting a tax refund, you can receive it one of two ways: via a check in the mail, or through direct deposit. The IRS recommends using direct deposit as it eliminates the possibility of the check getting lost in the mail, and takes less time to process.

If you’re expecting a federal income tax refund via direct deposit, you can expect to receive it in less than 21 calendar days after your return is filed. To set up direct deposit, you’ll need to fill in the “Refund” section of your tax form with your direct deposit information (if you filed a physical return, Lines 76 b,c,d) or follow the direct deposit prompts during the e-filing process.

If you filed a physical tax return and you’re expecting a refund, you can expect to receive your refund in about six weeks from the date the IRS received your return.

How do I check on the status of my tax refund?

The easiest way to check on the status of your Federal tax refund is by using either the IRS2Go mobile app or the Where’s My Refund? website.

The status of your tax return will be available for viewing on either of these tools within 24 hours after the IRS has received your e-filed return. If you mailed in a physical tax return, the status of your tax return will take longer to appear on the IRS2Go mobile app and Where’s My Refund?—about 4 weeks from the date it was mailed.

When you check the status of your tax refund, have the following details on hand:

  • Your social security number
  • Your filing status, which can be found on page one of your 1040 form in boxes one through five
  • Your exact refund amount, which can be found on line 76a on form 1040, line 48a on form 1040A, or line 13a on form 1040EZ

While your tax return is being processed, you can follow its progress in the IRS2Go app or the Where’s My Refund? tool through three stages.

  • Return Received: The IRS has received your tax return and are processing it.
  • Return Approved: The IRS has processed your return and your refund has been approved. At this stage, you’ll be able to see the actual date of your refund.
  • Return Sent: The IRS has sent your refund to your financial institution for direct deposit. It may take them anywhere from one to five days to deposit the funds into your account. If you requested a paper check, it could take several weeks for it to arrive in the mail.

The IRS updates their system no more than once a day, usually at night, so there’s no need to check in multiple times a day.

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Should I call the IRS to check my refund status?

As a general rule, it’s best to avoid calling the IRS about the status of your return. They have limited resources, and the wait times to talk to someone can be painfully long. However, there are three circumstances where it’s advisable to call the IRS to check on the status of your return.

Call the IRS to check on your return if:

  1. If it has been more than 21 days since you filed electronically.
  2. If it has been more than six weeks since you mailed your paper return.
  3. If the Where’s My Refund? tool or the IRS2Go mobile app has directed you to contact them.

You can reach the IRS at +1 (800) 829 1040.

Once you know when you can expect your refund, you can shift your focus to the more important question at hand: what are you going to do with it?

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

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