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This is how you track your 2020 tax refund once the IRS starts processing returns



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We’ll show you how to track your tax refund when it’s time.

Sarah Tew / CNET

The IRS starts on Feb. 12 accepting tax returns for 2020. And 24 hours later file your taxes online, you can start tracking your refund using a handy tool created by the IRS. This tool is the best way to see when your return was received by the IRS and when your tax refund has been approved.

The sooner you file your taxes, the you will get your refund for 2020 back faster – including your missing stimulus check money, as something is owed to you (here’s how to get a Refund Discount with the IRS). Like a third stimulus check is approved – and here it is the third payment term so far – it is not clear if that belongs to your household total incentive payment would be packed in your taxes in any way. If so, you want to follow that.

Note that the IRS is asking taxpayers not to file paper returns this year if possible, to avoid the current processing delay being exacerbated by a backlog from last year (remember, Tax season 2019 has been postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic). If you file a paper return, you must wait at least four weeks before you can track your refund. Below we’ll show you how to track your 2020 refund after filing your tax return next month.

How to Track Your Tax Refund Using Two IRS Tools

Before you try to keep track of your tax refund this year, there are several things you should have on hand. Your Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), your filing status – for example, single, married, head of household – and your exact refund amount in whole dollars, which you can find on your tax return.

Using the IRS tool Where’s My Refund, enter your Social Security number or ITIN, your filing status and your exact refund amount, then press Send. If you have entered your details correctly, you will be taken to a page with the status of your refund. 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 how you filed it – either electronically or on paper.

There is also a mobile app you can use to check the status of your tax refund called IRS2Go, which is useful if you are constantly checking when your refund is arriving.

The IRS updates the data in this tool overnight every day, so if you don’t see a status change after 24 hours or more, check back the next day.


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What Does My Tax Filing Status Mean on the IRS Site?

When you look at the status of your tax refund, you will see one of two things.

  • Receive: This means that the IRS now has your tax return and is processing it.
  • Approved: This means the IRS has approved your return and your refund is on its way to your bank or mailbox.
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You can expect your refund within 21 days.

Angela Lang / CNET

How long will it take for my tax refund to arrive?

The IRS says it makes most tax refunds within 21 days, but many will receive theirs much sooner. On the other hand, it may also take the IRS longer to send your tax refund if there are errors, or if a claim has been made for an Earned Income Tax Credit or the Child tax credit. But it also depends on how you submitted your tax return.

For example, if the refund is received deposited directly into your bank account, it may take another five days for your bank to credit it to your account. This means that if it took the IRS 21 days to issue your check and 5 days before your bank posted it, you could wait a total of 26 days to receive your money. That’s where tracking your refund comes in handy.

If it’s sent by mail, the IRS says it can take six to eight weeks for it to arrive.

Can I just call the IRS to check my status?

While you can call the IRS to check your status, the agency’s live phone assistance is extremely limited at this point, so you could be on hold for a while to speak to a representative. Also, the IRS 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 on your taxes, here’s when the The deadline for 2021 is to file your tax return, how to claim missing incentive money on your taxes and the real reason why you should sign up for direct deposit on your taxes for 2020.


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