Whether you’re planning a major purchase, saving for a specific goal, or simply need to balance your budget, knowing when you can expect to receive your tax return can be extremely helpful. This article provides an overview of the timing for tax return processing and what factors can impact the time it takes to get your tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
General Timeline for Tax Returns
The IRS states that it issues most tax refunds within 21 days of receiving your tax return. However, the exact timing can depend on how you filed your return, how you opted to receive your refund, and whether there are any issues or errors with your filed return.
- E-Filed Returns: Electronic filing (e-filing) is the fastest way to get your tax return processed. If you e-filed your tax return and requested a direct deposit for your refund, you could expect your refund within 21 days of the date you submitted your return.
- Paper Returns: If you filed a paper return, the processing time would be longer. The IRS typically takes six to eight weeks to process a paper return. Therefore, you might not receive your refund until eight weeks after the IRS receives your paper return.
- Mailed Refund Checks: If you requested a refund check instead of a direct deposit, this adds more time for mailing the check.
It’s important to remember that these timelines are estimates, and individual circumstances can lead to different processing times.
Factors That Can Delay Your Tax Return
Several factors can delay the processing of your tax return and the issuance of your refund:
- Incomplete or Incorrect Information: If your tax return is missing information or contains errors, the IRS will need additional time to process your return.
- Identity Verification: If the IRS suspects identity theft or fraudulent activity, they may hold your return until they can verify your identity.
- Returns Claiming Certain Credits: Tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) can’t be processed before mid-February, according to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act. This could mean a longer wait for your refund if you claimed these credits.
- Amended Returns: If you filed an amended return, it can take up to 16 weeks for the IRS to process it and issue your refund.
Checking the Status of Your Refund
To check the status of your refund, you can use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool available on the IRS website or the IRS2Go mobile app. You’ll need your Social Security number or ITIN, your filing status, and the exact amount of your refund to check the status. The tool is updated once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so you only need to check once a day.
In summary, how long it takes to get your tax return depends on several factors including how you filed your return, how you chose to receive your refund, and whether your return includes any errors or specific credits. While the IRS aims to issue most refunds within 21 days for e-filed returns and within six to eight weeks for paper returns, there can be exceptions. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to file your tax return accurately and as early as possible to ensure you receive your refund in a timely manner.