Where's Your Tax Refund?

Tools for Checking the status of a federal or state tax refund

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Using the tools listed below, it's possible to check on the status of a tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service or from a state tax department.

How to Check the Status of a Federal Tax Refund

  • Via the IRS Web site, using the Where's My Refund? Web application.
  • Via telephone, by calling the IRS's Refund Hotline at 1-800-829-1954 (this is a toll-free number).
  • Via mobile phone application, IRS2Go (available for Android and iOS devices).

    The IRS updates their computer systems once a day, usually at night. Information relating to your federal refund can be available as soon as twenty-four hours after the IRS receives an electronically-filed tax return or about four weeks after receiving a paper-filed tax return (Publication 2043, pdf).

    Typical Processing Times for Federal Refunds

    The Internal Revenue Service typically issues tax refunds within twenty-one days of receiving the tax return, if the tax return was filed electronically. (Tax Topic 152, Refund Information, IRS.gov)

    For paper tax returns that are mailed to the IRS for manual processing, the IRS issues refunds in approximately six to eight weeks. For amended returns, the IRS processes refunds in about eight to twelve weeks. (Internal Revenue Manual, 21.4.1.3.)

    Refunds involving the adoption tax credit are processed refunds in about 14 weeks, as the IRS performs additional processing and verification of the adoption credit.

    (Internal Revenue Manual, 21.4.1.3.)

    Non-resident aliens may have to wait up to six months to receive their refund if they claimed a refund of taxes withheld on Form 1042-S (What to Expect for Refunds in 2016, IRS.gov).

    Common Reasons Why Federal Tax Refunds Can Be Delayed

    There are lots of reasons why a federal tax refund may be delayed.

    Some of the reasons for delays include:

    • Processing backlogs

    Refunds often take longer to process when the IRS is receiving higher than normal volume of tax returns. Tax returns filed on paper, including amended returns and tax returns that are required to be filed on paper, can take longer for the IRS to process when the agency gets backlogged.

    • Incorrect bank information in the direct deposit section of the tax return

    If you filed your tax return, and the Where's My Refund app shows that the IRS sent your refund, but it still hasn't shown up in your bank account, then maybe the IRS sent the refund to the wrong account. 

    This happens when the bank account number and routing transit number showing on your tax return are different than your actual bank numbers. Perhaps you or your tax preparer made a mistake when entering this data? In this situation, the IRS will send the tax refund to the bank account shown on your tax return.

    If the numbers shown on your tax return don't correspond exactly to your bank account information, there are two possibilities for what could happen.

    (1) The bank could refuse the deposit and send the refund back to the IRS, and the IRS will then mail out the refund via check. (2) The bank doesn't refuse the deposit, and the refund is deposited to the mistaken account shown on your tax return. In this second case, that account either might be an actual account that belongs to another bank customer or it might not be an actual account, and the money is sitting there until the bank figures out what to do with the money. If your direct deposit information does not match your actual bank information, call the IRS right away to request that your direct deposit be canceled and your refund be converted to a check. You will likely also need to contact the bank to see if the bank can reverse the incorrect direct deposit. For further guidance on procedures for a mistaken routing or account number, see the IRS Web page on Refund Inquiries Regarding Incorrect Routing or Account Number.

    • IRS needs to manually verify information

    The IRS may need to verify information. When the IRS gets backlogged, such as during the busiest times of the filing season, this verification process can get backlogged and delayed.

    Check the Status of a State Tax Refund

    Wondering where your state tax refund is?  It's easy to check the status of your state tax refund using the online refund status tools on each state's Web site.  Find your state and click on the link to go directly to your state's refund status tool.

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