You've filed your tax paperwork, and then the question begins swirling in your mind. How long does it take to get a tax refund?
Answering that question isn't easy. Several factors play a role, including your filing method, your deductions, and your preferred payment option.
There is a time lapse between your tax refund being processed and you actually receiving that money. If you choose direct deposit, you’ll receive your money sooner than if a check is mailed to you.
And we’ll show you how Current customers can get their tax refunds up to five days faster compared to traditional banks.
Not yet a Current member? Sign up to get your tax refund up to five days faster.
When Can I Expect to Get My Tax Refund?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) makes no firm promises about when your tax refund will arrive. The agency does release ranges of typical release dates, and you can use those estimates as you plan.
In general, the IRS says, refunds are issued between six and eight weeks after the officials receive an accurate tax form. There are a few important things to notice about this statement.
- The range: Two weeks can mean a lot to working families. But that's the gap that sits between six and eight weeks.
- Reception: The clock starts ticking when officials get your paperwork, not when you send it.
- Accuracy: The range doesn’t apply if something about your tax forms is incorrect. Any incomplete or incorrect issues on your forms can restart the clock from the time they are corrected.
More than 90 percent of refunds are issued within 21 days. But clearly, plenty of people get their refunds later. And some speed up the process and get their money sooner too.
When you bank with Current, we get you your tax refund money up to 5 days faster than traditional banks (as long as you set up your refund via direct deposit). As soon as we receive the refund from the IRS, we credit your account.
Sign up for a Current banking account today to receive your refund faster.
Shorten Your Wait Time in 3 Easy Steps
Tax refunds aren't gifts. They represent an overpayment of taxes. In other words, this is your money. It's reasonable to want it back as quickly as possible.
Take these three steps to speed up the process and get your return quickly:
- File electronically. Choose paper tax forms, and you'll double your wait time. Every item you write on a paper form must be typed into the IRS system, and that takes time.
Electronic filing goes much faster, and this means you’ll get your money back faster too.
- Choose direct deposit. Give the IRS your account and routing information, and the funds will go into the account as soon as they're ready. You won't have to wait for a paper check to get printed and mailed to you. If you use a Current account, you’ll get your money five days faster than if you use a traditional bank.
Electronic deposits arrive about a week faster than printed checks. Direct deposit also helps you avoid delays caused by lost or stolen checks.
- Check your data. Before you submit any tax documents, go over them carefully. Ensure you've filled out each line with the correct information.
If the IRS teams spot a mistake, they'll contact you by mail to investigate, and that could add up to a significant wait time.
You can't control all aspects of your tax refund processing time. Despite all of your hard work, your refund could be delayed due to:
- IRS problems. Government agencies sometimes face challenges we can neither predict nor solve. In 2020, for example, IRS work was hindered by the coronavirus. In May 2020, 4.7 million returns hadn't been processed yet.
- Deductions. Claim an Earned Income Tax Credit, an Additional Child Tax Credit, or an Injured Spouse Allocation, and teams will take more time to process your taxes.
It's best to be proactive and do all you can to speed the refund process along. But be realistic about what you can and can't accomplish when dealing with such a large, federal organization.
Track Your Tax Return
With paperwork filed, you can watch your taxes as they're processed and your return is prepared.
Head to the IRS website to track your return. You'll need your:
- Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
- Filing status (single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, or qualifying widower).
- Refund amount.
Results should appear 24 hours after filing your taxes electronically. Mail a paper version, and expect delays before you see your status change.
Remember that your tax refund won’t be available the moment the IRS processes your tax return. The IRS still has to issue the payments.
Resist the urge to update and refresh the page throughout the day. Officials change the data only once per 24 hours, and that work is typically done at night. The information you see in the morning usually won't change throughout the day.
Prepare for Next Tax Season
Tax refunds can seem like free money. But remember that you paid every refund dollar you get back, and the IRS held onto your money without paying you any interest.
If you get a refund every year, it's wise to examine how much you withhold from every paycheck. Adjusting your withholding could mean a smaller refund, but you might have more in each paycheck. Getting more in each paycheck, versus a chunk at once with a large refund, can make it much easier to manage monthly expenses.
Use the IRS withholding estimator tool to see how much you should take out.
Still not a Current member? Sign up in just two minutes and get your tax refund faster this year (and every year).
IRS Tax Tip 2001-48. Internal Revenue Service.
When Will My Tax Refund Arrive? What to Know About the Tax Refund Schedule. (February 2020). U.S. News and World Report.
How Long Does It Take to Get Tax Refund? (July 2020). Kaufman Rossin.
Get Your Refund Faster: Tell IRS to Direct Deposit Your Refund to One, Two, or Three Accounts. (September 2020). Internal Revenue Service.
Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions. (September 2020). Internal Revenue Service.
Everything You Should Know About Tax Refunds. (June 2019). U.S. News and World Report.