Where's my tax refund? The IRS refund timetable explained

"Where's my tax refund?"

Ever wonder what happens between e-filing your tax return and receiving your refund? Here is what really happens when you press that green button and transmit your tax return.

  • First, we "stamp" the return with an electronic postmark, and then we send it to the government.
  • Then we both wait 24 to 48 hours for the IRS to accept your return.
  • What are they doing? They are checking your personal information to make sure it matches their records.
  • If everything looks good, the IRS accepts your return.

Once you are accepted, you are on the IRS payment timetable. Only the IRS knows the status of processing your tax return, whether you owe taxes or are due a refund. In prior years, the IRS issued more than 9 out of 10 refunds to taxpayers in less than 21 days last year. The same results are expected for 2020.

Once you have e-filed your tax return, there are a few ways to check the status of your refund:

The tool will get you personalized refund information based on the processing of your tax return. They will provide an actual refund date as soon as the IRS processes your tax return and approves your refund. Most refunds will be issued in less than 21 days. You can start checking the status of your refund within 24 hours after you have e-filed your return.

Remember, the fastest way to get your refund is to e-file and choose direct deposit.

Other tools and refund delays

You can also use the TurboTax Where's My Refund tracking guide that will show you how to check the status of your tax refund and common reasons for delays.

These articles explain in more detail what may cause a delay:

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