How to Check Your Refund Status

Let’s say you filed your tax return, and the IRS owes you a refund, which usually occurs because you had excess tax withheld from your pay. You’d like to know when you can expect to receive that lump sum. Is there a way to find out?

The process

In short, yes. The IRS made it easy for you with a tool called “Where’s My Refund?”

Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to the IRS web page at
  2. If you’re using a mobile device, download the official IRS app at irs2goapp.
  3. Look for the box that says “Refund Status.”
  4. You’ll need three bits of information from the tax return you most recently filed:
    • Your Social Security number or ITIN.
    • Your filing status (for example, Single, Married Filing Jointly, etc.)
    • The exact amount of your refund that you specified on your tax return.
  1. Click the blue box that says “Check my refund status.”
  2. You’ll see a pop-up warning. Read it and then click “Ok” to close the box.
  3. Enter the information as shown.

The Where’s My Refund tool has a tracker that shows the status of your return through three stages: (1) Return received by the IRS, (2) Refund approved by the IRS, and (3) Refund sent. Once you clear step 2 (Refund approved), the tool will provide the date

“Refund approved” means the IRS is preparing to send the tax refund to your bank if you selected direct deposit, or to you in the mail. The status tells you when the refund will be sent to your bank. However, you should wait five days after the IRS has sent the refund before you check with your bank. If the IRS mails you a refund check, it could take several weeks for you to receive it.

In addition, if the IRS is still reviewing your tax return, the tool might show instructions or an explanation of what the IRS is doing.

When can I check the status of my refund?

The IRS says that you should wait at least 24 hours after you e-file your federal tax return before you check. If you filed by paper, expect to wait at least four weeks before you check Where’s My Refund. The information is updated nightly so you don’t need to check more than once a day.

The information about the status of your refund will be available for at least a few months. If you file before July 1, the refund information will be available online at Where’s My Refund? until the second or third week in December. If you file after July 1, the information will be available until you file a tax return for a more current tax year.

When will I receive the actual refund?

According to the IRS, it issues more than 90 percent of refunds in less than 21 days.

If your tax return takes longer to review, you might receive your refund later. For example, if your return was incomplete or incorrect, or affected by identity theft, it might take longer for you to receive the refund.

Get help

If you have difficulty checking the status, review the information you provided to ensure you didn’t mistype a number or select the wrong filing status.

You can also click the Refund Help tab for further assistance.

The IRS system is not available during times specified on the Refund Help tab, mostly late at night.

You can phone the IRS at 800-829-1040 Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 7:00 pm local time. Residents of Alaska and Hawaii should follow Pacific time. Phone lines in Puerto Rico are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. local time.

You can also seek help from a walk-in representative to research the status of your refund. However, you should wait at least 21 days since you filed electronically or more than six weeks since you mailed your paper tax return. The Where’s My Refund? tool might also tell you to call the IRS directly.

The IRS’ Where’s My Refund? tool is a quick and easy to check the status of your federal income tax refund.

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