Where's my tax refund? How to check your refund status

Lisa Lewis, CPA and TurboTax Blog Editor
Where's my tax refund? How to check your refund status

With refund season being well underway and the average tax refund being close to $2,800 last tax season, we are hearing the common tax season question "Where's My Refund?"

We know that you work hard for your money and often a tax refund may be the biggest check you get all year, so we wanted to let you know what happens after you hit the e-file button and how to check the status of your tax refund.

Here is a breakdown of IRS processing times, how your tax return will progress through 3 stages with the IRS -"Return Received", "Return Approved", and "Refund Sent" once you e-file, and where you can go to check your refund status so you understand "Where's My Refund?"

Refund Processing Time

E-filed tax returns with direct deposit – E-file with direct deposit is the fastest way to get your federal tax refund. The IRS states that 9 out of 10 e-filed tax returns with direct deposit will be processed within 21 days of IRS e-file acceptance.

Mailed paper returns – Refund processing time is 6 to 8 weeks from the date the IRS receives your tax return.

Refund Process

1. Start checking status 24 – 48 hours after e-file – Once you have e-filed your tax return, you can check status on the go, by using the free TurboTax mobile app, MyTaxRefund, available for iPhone and Android. You can also use the IRS Where's My Refund? You will not be able to start checking the status of your tax refund for 4 weeks if you mail a paper tax return.

2. Return Received Notice within 24 – 48 hours after e-file – The IRS Where's My Refund tool will show "Return Received" status once they begin processing your tax return. You will not see a refund date until the IRS finishes processing your tax return and approves your tax refund.

3. Status change from "Return Received" to "Refund Approved" – Once the IRS finishes processing your tax return and confirms your tax refund is approved, your status will change from "Return Received" to "Refund Approved". Sometimes the change in status can take a few days, but it could take longer and a date will not be provided in Where's My Refund? until your tax return is processed and your tax refund is approved.

4. Where's My Refund? tool shows refund date – The IRS will provide a personalized refund date once your status moves to "Refund Approved". The IRS issues 9 out of 10 refunds within 21 days of acceptance if you e-file with direct deposit.

5. Where's My Refund? shows "Refund Sent" – If the status in Where's My Refund? shows "Refund Sent", the IRS has sent your tax refund to your financial institution for direct deposit. It can take 1 to 5 days for your financial institution to deposit funds into your account. If you requested that your tax refund be mailed, it could take several weeks for your check to arrive.

Here are more answers to your common tax refund questions:

Will I see a date right away when I check status in "Where's My Refund"?

Where's My Refund tool will not give you a date until your tax return is received, processed, and your tax refund is approved by the IRS.

It's been longer than 21 days since the IRS has received my tax return and I have not received my tax refund. What's happening?

Some tax returns take longer than others to process depending on your tax situation. Some of the reasons it may take longer are incomplete information, an error, or the IRS needs to review it further.

I requested my money be automatically deposited into my bank account, but I was mailed a check. What happened?

The IRS is limiting the number of direct deposits that go into a single bank account or prepaid debit card to three tax refunds per year. Your limit may have been exceeded.

Haven't filed your taxes yet? Get that much closer to your money and file today. You may even be able to e-file your federal and state tax returns for absolutely nothing and have your federal tax refund in your pocket within 21 days.

Original article at TurboTax.com

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