When to Expect Your Tax Refund and What Can Delay It
In a recent statement, the IRS noted that most taxpayers are issued refunds by the IRS in fewer than 21 days. However, a number of factors can delay the refund beyond 21 days, including:
- Security reviews—The IRS and its partners continue to strengthen security reviews to help protect against identity theft and refund fraud. Your tax return may be receiving additional review, which makes processing your refund take a bit longer.
- Errors—It can take longer for the IRS to process a tax return that has errors. Fortunately, electronic filing has reduced the number of errors, which are more common in paper returns.
- Incomplete returns—Here again, electronic filing makes filing an incomplete return more difficult. The IRS will often immediately reject incomplete returns that are electronically filed. A tax return that is accepted but incomplete takes longer to process because the IRS contacts the taxpayer by mail for additional information.
- Earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit—If you claim the earned income tax credit (EITC) or additional child tax credit (ACTC) before mid-February, the IRS cannot issue refunds as quickly as others. The law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund. This includes the portion of the refund not associated with EITC or ACTC.
- Your bank or other financial institutions may not post your refund immediately—It can take time for banks or other financial institutions to post a refund to a taxpayer’s account.
- Refund checks by mail—It can take even longer for a taxpayer to receive a refund check by mail. Direct deposit is faster, usually by about a week.
In an unusually poetic statement, the IRS explains that “tax returns, like snowflakes and thumbprints, are unique and individual. So too, is each taxpayer’s refund.” So keep this in mind while waiting for your refund. Fortunately, you can track your refund status by going to www.irs.gov/refunds and providing your social security number, the filing status of the return in question, and the amount of the refund expected.< Back to previous page Tax Preparation >