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Where is my tax refund? Get your return status with IRS tracker tools


Track the refund the IRS owes you. We are here for you.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Waiting for your income tax refund after you file your tax return can be daunting. However, the IRS has two tracker tools that can give you updates on your refund so you know the status of your money. We will tell you how they work.

The IRS is experiencing reimbursement delays this year for a number of reasons, and a few things could cause yours to be held up. For example, if the IRS performs additional calculations because you qualify for one chargeback discount credit, or if you send a paper tax return by post. The online IRS tools will let you know if your tax return has been received, if the IRS is processing it, or when your refund has been sent or deposited electronically into your bank account.

The IRS also has other trackers you can use. If you think you third stimulus check missing, you can follow the status of your payment. Find out more about whether you might need it here file an amended tax form and if you qualify for other COVID-related credits and benefits. If you have children, you can calculate as follows how much money you could get through tax credits for children. And if you became unemployed in 2020, your refund will allow you to get extra money if you do qualify for a tax break. This story is regularly updated.

Why is it taking longer for the IRS to process tax returns in 2021?

Because of the pandemic last year, the IRS ran with a limited capacity, reducing the ability to file tax returns as well send incentive checks. The IRS is now open again, processing mail, tax returns, payments, refunds and correspondence, the agency said, but the pandemic continues to delay some services.

The IRS said it currently issues most refunds in less than 21 days, but some take longer, including paper tax returns in the mail. The IRS said it also takes longer than 21 days to issue refunds for some 2020 tax returns that need to be revised, as determined Credit for chargeback discount amounts for the first and second incentive check or calculating the income tax credit and additional child discount amounts.

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What do I use to track the status of my refund with the IRS?

To see the status of your income tax refund using the IRS trackers, you will need several things: your Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, your Application Status – Single, Married, or Head of House – and your full dollar refund amount, which you can find 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.

How long will it take to get my money back?

The IRS usually issues tax refunds within 21 days, and many people get their refund much earlier. This year, as the IRS faces complications, it is expected that some taxpayers with longer wait times will have to wait 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 may 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 application electronically.

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

What causes my refund to be delayed?

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

  • 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 may take up to 14 weeks to process.

Will the tax authorities respond to my questions about tax refunds by phone?

While you can technically call the IRS to check your status, the agency’s live phone assistance is currently extremely limited, so you can be on hold for a while to speak to 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.

What do these refund status messages mean?

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

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