What could be keeping your tax refunds?

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Did you know that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sends out most refunds fairly quickly? Just a few years ago getting a refund could take months, and there was no way to check the status online. But we are in 2020 and knowing how long it takes for the tax refund to arrive is much easier than before.

According to information issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), most tax refunds are sent within 21 calendar days after a refund is processed. However, different factors can affect this time frame.

For example, people who file online returns get their refunds faster than those who submit a paper return. Additionally, choosing to have your refund directly deposited to you is also a faster option than waiting for a check to be mailed to you. However, if your return includes refundable tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or an Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), you should know that Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act prohibits the IRS from issuing EITC and ACTC refunds before mid-February.

What’s more, the IRS estimates that even the first few applicants to claim these credits won’t see their refunds on their bank accounts or debit cards until the first week of March. So even if you filed your return the first day the IRS started accepting them, you will still have to wait a while to get your refund if you claim one of those tax breaks. In this vein, if you have filed your return and want to know how long it takes for the taxes to arrive, the IRS offers a couple of methods to track it.

How long does it take for the federal tax refund to arrive?

Below is an estimate of ​​how long it typically takes to get a tax refund.

  • Electronic filing with direct deposit: 1 to 3 weeks
  • Paper declaration with direct deposit: 3 weeks
  • Electronic return with mail-in rebate check: 6-8 weeks
  • Paper statement with mail-in rebate check: 6-8 weeks

Refund status and tracking

Taxpayers who owe money to the IRS usually wait until the tax filing deadline to send their payment, but unlike them, people waiting for a refund want it to come to them as soon as possible. For that reason, the Internal Revenue Service created two tools to prevent you from compulsively checking your mailbox every day.

  • IRS2Go

IRS2Go is an application for smartphones and devices available for Android and iOS. You can download it from the App Store or the Android Marketplace. The app is pretty basic, but you can use it to do things like check the status of your refund, make a tax payment or find free tax preparation assistance.

  • Where’s My Refund?

The second tool is a section on the IRS website called “Where’s My Refund?” To use it, simply enter your Social Security number, the marital status you entered on your return, and the exact amount of your refund. After entering this information the IRS will inform you when you can expect to receive it.

This tool is most effective 24 hours after submitting your return electronically, or four weeks after mailing it. However, don’t bother checking multiple times a day. According to the IRS website, they post updates daily, usually overnight.


Only three pieces of information are necessary to check the status of your return:

  1. Your Social Security Number (SSN)
  2. Your marital status
  3. The exact dollar amount of your expected refund

Remember that if you filed a return with the EITC or the ACTC, the IRS itself confirms that you will have to wait for your refund status to update by the end of February. Additional factors could delay the processing of your tax refunds, such as errors, incomplete returns, or fraud.

For example, and as we’ve explained before, taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) may see additional delays due to special rules that require the IRS to withhold their refunds. Until February 27th. You should also wait longer for your refund if the IRS determines that your tax return needs further review.


What is the fastest way to get a refund?

The fastest way to get a refund is by direct deposit. Eight out of 10 taxpayers get their refunds faster through the use of electronic files and direct deposit, according to the IRS. In this sense, the agency expects around 90% of people to file their returns electronically. Additionally, you can also use the direct deposit option if you are filing on paper. In other words, the fastest way is to get refunds is through electronic taxes.

If you have an Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit, your tax refund will not begin processing as usual. The 21-day average starts from this point. If you mailed your tax return, wait six to eight weeks for processing: Your 21-day period begins once the tax return is in the IRS system.

In conclusion, some factors that can affect the speed of your refunds, such as software failures and the volume of filing at the time you submit your taxes, are beyond your control. The IRS tends to process refunds faster for people who file advance returns.

The closer we get to the tax filing deadline, the busier the IRS is and the longer it takes them to process your return and issue a refund. No matter what steps you take to ensure a quick refund.


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