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Where is my tax refund? Use IRS tracking tools to monitor your tax filing status



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The IRS expects some delay in processing returns and issuing refunds this year.

Sarah Tew / CNET

If you’ve met the May 17 deadline to file your tax returns, the wait for your refund from the IRS will begin. Instead of checking your mailbox or bank account to see if your money has arrived, you can instead use two IRS tracking tools to find out the status of your tax refund and see if anything is causing a delay. Delays can occur for a variety of reasons, not only due to a backlog due to the pandemic, but also due to corrections to be made on some tax returns. You can also try calling the IRS’s live phone support for assistance, but the IRS warned that assistance is “extremely limited” at this point. Anyway, we’ll tell you how below.

For example, the IRS may need to perform additional calculations if you qualify for one chargeback discount credit. The IRS may also calculate your refund because you paid taxes on unemployment benefits you received in 2020. IRS’s online tools tell you if your tax return has been received, whether it is being processed, or when your refund is deposited or mailed.

We also explain what to do if your third stimulus check got lost – follow that payment here. You may be interested in whether you qualify for other COVID-related credits and benefits. If you have dependents, you can calculate as follows how much money you could get through tax credits for children. This story is regularly updated.

Has the IRS delayed processing tax returns this year?

Due to the pandemic, the IRS ran with limited capacity in 2020, reducing the ability to file tax returns and 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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How can I use the online tools to check my refund status?

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 receive my tax refund?

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 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 is holding back my refund money?

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 can take up to 14 weeks to process.

Will the IRS customer service answer my tax refund questions over the phone?

While you can 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. Here is the number to call (800) 829-1040.

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.

Help out! What do these messages mean about my refund status?

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 the address in the file if you have moved.)

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