Where's Your Tax Refund? How to Check With the IRS and Your State

Plan ahead to avoid delays in 2022

An overhead illustration of a desktop with a computer, calculator, and phone, with a person's hand resting on a document and holding a cup of coffee with the other hand, representing a headline and text that reads: Where Is Your Tax Refund? 1. Via the IRS website, using the Where's My Refund? web application; 2. via mobile phone application, IRS2Go (available for Android and iOS devices); 3. Via telephone, by calling the IRS Refund Hotline at 1-900-829-1954.

The Balance

Your tax refund begins with filing your tax return, and with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accepting it. Finding out about the status of your refund is a simple matter from there. You can access the information on the IRS website or on its mobile app.

You can't submit your return until the official opening of the tax-filing season. The IRS generally begins accepting tax returns sometime in mid- to late January of the year after the tax year for which you're filing. It will begin accepting 2021 tax returns on January 24, 2022.

Key Takeaways

  • The IRS is still experiencing some processing delays in 2022 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The easiest way to check on your federal refund is to use the Where’s My Refund? tool provided on the IRS website.
  • Mailing in a paper tax return rather than e-filing can significantly delay your refund.
  • Requesting a paper check rather than the direct deposit of your refund can also cause a delay.
  • States have their own guidelines for processing and processing timelines for state returns.

Plan Ahead for the 2022 Tax Season

The IRS experienced some processing delays in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it indicates that it's still experiencing some service delays in 2022. Telephone assistance, processing of paper returns, and reviewing returns (even those that are e-filed) are likely to move along more slowly than usual.

The agency urges that taxpayers not call or file a second return if they experience delays. Many tools are available online that can help if you have questions. Its Free File service will prepare and e-file your tax return for you if your 2021 adjusted gross income was $73,000 or less.

Free File tax forms and e-filing are still available at no cost if you earned more than $73,000. But you'll have to complete them and prepare your return yourself.

Check the Status of a Federal Refund

You can check your refund status at the IRS Where's My Refund? web page after you've filed your return or from your smartphone at IRS2Go. The app is available for Android and iOS devices. The IRS updates its computer systems to reflect the current status of returns that have been filed once a day, usually at night. Both the app and the website are available 24/7.

Information regarding your federal refund can normally be available as soon as 24 hours after the IRS receives an electronically filed tax return or about four weeks after receiving a paper-filed tax return. But again, you can expect paper returns to take a bit longer to process in the 2022 filing season.

Typical Processing Times for Federal Refunds

You can base your expectation of receiving a refund on these typical processing times:

  • The IRS indicates that it will likely issue tax refunds within 21 days of receiving a tax return if the return is filed electronically.
  • The agency normally issues refunds for paper returns that are mailed to the IRS for manual processing in approximately six to eight weeks. But this is an area in which it's experiencing delays in 2022.
  • Amended returns can take up to 16 weeks to process.
  • Non-residents may have to wait up to six months to receive their refund if they claim a refund of taxes withheld on Form 1042-S.

Delays for the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits

The IRS is prohibited by law from releasing refunds resulting from the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit until mid-February.

The February date is based on requesting a direct deposit of your refund, not a paper check by mail. It assumes that no problems arise with your tax return.

Refundable credits are susceptible to identity theft, and a lot of taxpayers make errors when claiming them. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, therefore, prohibits the IRS from releasing these refunds until the agency has had ample time to ensure that the taxpayers claiming these refunds qualify for them.

When the IRS Gets Backlogged

Refunds also take longer to process when the IRS is receiving a higher-than-normal volume of tax returns. This happens typically at the peak of filing season when everyone is trying to get their tax return in so they can get their refunds as quickly as possible. Other issues can complicate processing as well, such as if the IRS wants to verify information on your return. This verification process can further delay things when the IRS gets backlogged.

Delays Due to Incorrect Bank Information

It's possible that the IRS sent your refund to the wrong account if the Where's My Refund? app indicates that the IRS has transmitted it, but it hasn't shown up in your bank account. This can happen when you've requested a direct deposit of your refund, and the bank account number and the routing transit number you entered on your tax return are different from your actual bank numbers. The IRS will send the tax refund to the bank account shown on your tax return.

One of two things can happen in this case:

  • The bank might refuse the deposit and send the refund back to the IRS. The agency will mail the refund to you via paper check in this case.
  • The bank will accept the deposit. The refund is deposited to the mistaken account shown on your tax return.

That incorrect account number might be an actual account that belongs to someone else, or it might be that an account with that number doesn't exist. The money will sit there until the bank figures out what to do with it if no existing account corresponds with the number.

Check your tax return. Call the IRS as soon as possible at 800-829-1040 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday if your direct deposit information doesn't match your actual bank information. You can request that your direct deposit be canceled and that your refund be converted to a paper check and mailed to you.

Contact the bank to see if it can reverse an incorrect direct deposit. Give the bank two weeks or so to do so. You can file IRS Form 3911 to ask that the agency contact the bank on your behalf if you don't get an acceptable response after this time. The bank has 90 days to initiate a trace after being notified of the error by the IRS.

Historically, the IRS has been prevented by law from taking direct action to get these deposits back from banks. But that changed with the Taxpayer First Act of 2019. You now have some options.

Check the Status of Your State Tax Refund

The following states offer online refund status tools:

  • Alabama: Click the "Where's My Refund?" button
  • Arizona
  • California: Click on "Check Refund." You'll need your Social Security number, ZIP code, the exact amount of your refund. You'll be asked for the numbers in your address.
  • Colorado: Click on the "Revenue Online" link.
  • Connecticut: Click on "Check on the Status of Your Refund" found in the blue sidebar.
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia: Click on "Check your refund status here."
  • Georgia: Click on "Where's My Refund?"
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho: Click on the link in the refund status page.
  • Indiana
  • Iowa: You'll need your Social Security number, your exact refund amount, and the tax year you're looking for.
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky: The interactive tool to initiate a search can be found at the bottom of the page.
  • Louisiana: Click on the "Check Your Income Tax Refund Status" link.
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts: The "Check the Status of Your Refund" link can be found at the bottom of the page.
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota: You must be due a refund and have filed the return within the last 12 months for tax years 2016 or later. You'll be asked to provide your date of birth.
  • Missouri: This state's site allows you to check on the status of your return, with a refund issue date "if applicable."
  • Montana: Click on "Where's My Refund?"
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico: Click on "Where's My Refund?" at the left side of the page.
  • New York: Click on the "Check Refund Status" box.
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota: You'll have to provide your filing status, your Social Security number, and the exact amount of your expected refund.
  • Ohio
  • Oregon: Click on "Where's my Refund?" near the top of the second column.
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island: You'll need your Social Security number, your filing status, and your exact refund amount.
  • South Carolina: Click on the "Check Your Refund Status" box at the top left.
  • Utah: Click on "Where's My Refund?" toward the bottom of the column of options on the left side of the page.
  • Vermont: Click on "Check My Refund Status."
  • Virginia: You must wait 72 hours after filing your return electronically or four weeks after you've mailed in a paper return. You can also call the Automated Refund System at 804-367-2486.
  • Wisconsin

Eight states don't have an income tax as of the 2021 tax year: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. New Hampshire taxes only interest and dividend income, not earned income.

What is the minimum income to be required to file taxes?

Income is only one factor that decides whether you should file a tax return. Filing status, whether you qualify for certain tax credits, your age, and whether you're blind also influence whether you need to file. But the income minimums to require filing are equal to the year's standard deduction. The minimum income required for single taxpayers under age 65 to file is $12,550 for 2021.

When are income taxes due?

Federal income taxes are typically due on April 15. They're due on the next business day if April 15 falls on a weekend or holiday. That's the case in 2022, when the deadline is extended to April 18. Most states with an income tax require that returns be filed on April 15 as well. But some allow more time.

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