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When will your tax refund arrive? Possible dates and how to track them


We show you how to track your tax refund.

Sarah Tew / CNET

The IRS has started accepting tax returns for 2020, from Friday, February 12. And 24 hours after that file your taxes onlineYou 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.

If you file your taxes early, you will get your refund for 2020 back earlier – including your missing stimulus check money, as something is owed to you (here’s how to get a Refund Discount with the IRS) – assuming there are no errors. Set up direct deposit is another way to make sure you get your money faster. Like a third stimulus check is approved – and here it is the third payment term until now – from your household total incentive payment would be paid as a refundable tax credit on prepayments (PDF).

Note that the IRS is asking taxpayers not to file paper returns this year if possible, to avoid exacerbating the current processing delay by a backlog from last year (remember, Tax season 2019 has been postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemicIf 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.

Here’s 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 SendIf 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 at night 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 Your Tax Filing Status Means 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.

You can expect your refund within 21 days.

Angela Lang / CNET

How long will it take to get my tax refund?

The IRS says it issues 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 creditBut 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 booked 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 mailed, the IRS says it can take six to eight weeks for it to arrive. Here are some possible dates when you could receive your refund.

When to expect your tax refund

If you submit a file on this date This is the fastest This is the last

12th of February

February 19

March 5th

March 1

8 March

March 22nd

April 1st

April 8

April 22nd

April 15th (last day to submit)

April 22nd

6 May

October 15 (last day with extension)

22 Oct.

November 5th

Can I 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 on your taxes, here’s when is the 2021 deadline 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 2020 taxes.

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