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Still waiting for your IRS tax refund? You can track it



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Find out where your 2020 tax return is with these tools.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Tax day is only a little over a week away, on May 17. If you’ve already filed your 2020 tax return, but you’re still waiting for your refund, you can use IRS tools to check its status. And if you haven’t completed your taxes yet, you should file your tax return or apply for an extension with the IRS before the deadline.

This tax season will take the IRS a little longer to process paper returns, and there may be other delays that will delay your refund. Whether you sent a paper return or filed electronically, there are two tracking tools that will tell you whether your tax return was received, whether the IRS is processing it, or when your refund was sent or deposited into your account. We’ll show you exactly how to track your refund.

You can also use the IRS tools if you have a missing stimulus payment as a Refund discount on your 2020 tax return. And if it seems to you third stimulus check is missing, the IRS has an app for you follow the status of your payment. Find out more about whether you might need it here file an amended tax form, if you qualify for other COVID-related credits and benefits and if you have a fourth incentive payment. If you have children, you can calculate as follows how much money you could owe it tax credits for children. If you were unemployed last year, you can get more money with your refund qualify for a tax break. And here’s how you can tell if the IRS has it a tax refund that you must request. This story was recently updated.

How can I track my income tax refund?

To track the status of your tax refund, you will need several things: your Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, your filing status – single, married, or householder – and your full dollar refund amount, which can be found on your tax return. Also, make sure it’s been at least 24 hours before trying to track your refund.

Using the IRS tool Where’s My Refund, enter your SSN or ITIN, your submission status and your exact refund amount, then press To send. If you have entered your details correctly, you will be taken to a page showing your refund status. If not, you may be asked to verify your personal tax information and try again. If all the information looks correct, you should enter the date you filed your tax, along with whether you filed electronically or on paper.

The IRS also has a mobile app called IRS2Go that checks the status of your tax refund. The IRS updates the data in this tool overnight, so if you don’t see a status change after 24 hours or more, check back the next day.






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What do these declaration messages mean?

Both the IRS tools (online and mobile app) show you one of three messages to explain your tax filing status.

  • Received: The IRS now has your tax return and is working to process it.
  • Approved: The IRS has processed your return and confirmed the amount of your refund, if you owe one.
  • sentYour refund is now on its way to your bank via direct deposit or as a paper check in your mailbox. (Here’s how change your registered address if you have moved.)

How long do I have to wait for my tax refund?

The IRS usually issues tax refunds within 21 days, and many people get their refund much earlier. This year, however, the IRS is facing delays due to a variety of complications, and some taxpayers are expected to wait longer to receive their payments.

If there are errors, it may take longer for the agency to process and handle your tax refund. The same goes for people who have filed a claim for a payroll tax credit or the child tax credit. (Here is who qualifies for the child discount.)

The date you receive your tax refund also depends on how you filed your tax return. For example with refunds into your bank account via direct deposit, it can take another five days for your bank to credit it to your account. This means that if it took the IRS the full 21 days to issue your check and your bank five days to post it, you will have to wait a total of 26 days to receive your money.

If you filed your tax return in the mail, the IRS says it can take six to eight weeks for your tax refund to arrive. That’s where tracking your refund comes in handy. Here are some possible dates when you could receive your refund if you have submitted or plan to submit an electronic application.

When your tax refund could come, if there is no additional delay

If you submit a file on this date

This is the fastest

This is the last

March 1

8 March

March 22nd

April 1st

April 8

April 22nd

15 of April

April 22nd

6 May

May 17 (last day to submit)

May 24

June 7

October 15 (last day with extension)

Oct 22, 2018

November 5th

Why has my tax refund been delayed?

The IRS has a list of reasons why your refund may be on hold.

  • Your tax return contains errors.
  • It is not complete.
  • Your refund has been affected by identity theft or fraud.
  • You have applied for the payroll tax credit or additional child tax credit.
  • Your return should be reviewed.
  • Your tax return includes Form 8379 (PDF), Injured Spouse Assignment – this can take up to 14 weeks to process.

Can I call the IRS for answers?

While you can technically call the IRS to check your status, the agency’s live phone assistance is currently extremely limited, so you may be on hold to speak with a representative. The IRS also says you should only call if it has been 21 days or more since you filed your taxes online, or if the Where’s My Refund tool tells you to contact the IRS.

For more information about your 2020 taxes, here is how to claim missing incentive money about your taxes and everything you need to know about the third stimulus check.


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