The IRS has created a website to provide answers for the most common refund questions. See the IRS Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions webpage for additional answers not reproduced below.
Use the IRS2Go Mobile App or the Where’s My Refund? tool. You can start checking on the status of your tax return within 24 hours after the IRS has received your e-filed return or four weeks after you mail a paper return.
The Where’s My Refund? tool will not give you a refund date right away. The IRS must first receive your tax return and then they have to process it and approve your refund. Where’s My Refund? will give you a personalized date once your refund is approved.
Use the Where’s My Refund? tool to follow your tax return from receipt to issuance of your refund. While your tax return is being processed you can follow it through three states: "Return Received," "Refund Approved," and "Refund Sent."
This means the IRS has your tax return and is processing it. Your personalized refund date will be available as soon as the IRS finishes processing your return and confirms that your refund has been approved. Most refunds are issued in less than 21 days.
This means the IRS has processed your return and has approved your refund. The IRS is now preparing to send your refund to your bank or directly to you in the mail if you requested a paper check.
This means the IRS has sent your refund to your financial institution for direct deposit. It may take your financial institution one to five days to deposit the funds into your account. If you requested a paper check this means your check has been mailed. It could take several weeks for your check to arrive in the mail.
Where’s My Refund? updates are made no more than once per day, usually overnight.
Be careful not to count on getting your refund by a certain date to make major purchases or pay other financial obligations. Many different factors can affect the timing of your refund after the IRS receives it for processing. Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible your tax return may require additional review and take longer. Also, if you are anticipating a refund, take into consideration the time it takes for your financial institution to post the refund to your account, or for mail delivery.
Note that any link in the information above is updated each year automatically and will take you to the most recent version of the document at the time it is accessed.