As we get a little closer to the tax filing deadline, many taxpayers are starting to focus on the tax forms, business expenses and personal deductions needed to prep their returns and maximize their 2020 refund. 

But if you’ve already filed this year’s taxes, waiting for that refund check to pay off your bills or buy that new phone can get a little frustrating, particularly when you don’t know when it’ll be before that money makes it into your wallet. 

So, where is your refund? Read on to learn how to check your federal tax refund and get the answers you need fast. 

Where is my refund?

Tracking the status of your federal income tax refund is only possible after:

  1. Your return has been filed with the IRS
  2. Your return has been received and accepted by IRS officials, and
  3. Your return and refund have been approved

The time it takes the IRS to receive and process your return depends mainly on how you choose to file. 

If your tax return was e-filed (filed electronically), it generally takes between 1-2 days after you file before the IRS can confirm receipt of your return. Once received, the IRS averages about two days before approving your return and issuing a refund check. And once your check is issued, it usually takes just under three weeks (around 19 days) for the money to show up in your bank account.

But if you file a paper return, the process slows down significantly. Getting approval on a paper tax return can take anywhere between six and eight weeks after the government receives your return. 

And should the IRS find any inaccuracies in your return, it can take even longer for your money to find its way into your mailbox.

How to check your federal tax refund payment

Checking on your federal tax refund means first knowing the status of your tax return. 

This can be done one of several ways:

  • Use the Where’s My Refund tracker. Status updates are generally available no earlier than 24 hours after you e-file or four weeks after you mail your return.
  • View your IRS account online. Your taxpayer account provides updated info not only on the status of your current tax return, but also on your tax payment history, any existing tax balances and more.
  • Call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040. Wait times to speak with a live person may be extensive, particularly at tax time.
  • Look for status updates or emails from your local tax preparer or e-filing service provider

If you file by mail, services like USPS Certified Mail can be effective tools for tracking your return and confirming when it’s received by the IRS.  

My return has been received. How do I check my income tax refund status?

Where is my refund? Once your tax return has been received and approved, you can use the IRS Where’s My Refund tool or the IRS2Go app to check the status of your income tax refund. To access either feature, you will need:

  • Your Social Security or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
  • Your current filing status (Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household, Qualifying Widower)
  • The exact refund amount shown on this year’s return

Whether you’ve e-filed or mailed your return, both IRS refund tracking options offer a fast and easy way to learn where your tax refund is and estimate when that money will be in your hands. 

When should I call the IRS about my refund?

While most refunds are issued in three weeks or less, there are several instances where it may be good idea to follow up directly with the IRS. These include:

  • When your refund hasn’t shown 21-day or more after you’ve e-filed
  • When your refund hasn’t shown up six weeks or more after mailing your return
  • When Where’s My Refund alerts you to contact the IRS

Where is my amended IRS refund?

You can track the status of your federal amended return (Form 1040-X) and tax refund with the IRS Where’s My Amended Return tool, located on the IRS website. Where’s My Amended Return provides an easy way to confirm your amended return has been received, check on its status and get an estimated time for when return processing will be completed. 

To use Where’s My Amended Return, you will need to enter your:

  • Social Security Number
  • DOB (date of birth), and 
  • Zip code (used when filing your return)

You may also track an amended return by calling the Where’s My Amended Return line at 866-464-2050. 

The IRS recommends waiting up to three weeks after mailing your amended return before checking on its status, as it may take this long for your return to show up in their system. Also, it’s important to note that many amended returns can take up to 16 weeks to process.

The IRS Amended Return tool allows you to check the status of amended returns for the present year and three years prior.

Where is my state tax refund?

You can generally find information on your state tax refund and return on your state’s taxation or revenue website. Most states make it fairly easy to confirm your state return has been received and learn if your refund is being processed, though requirements for accessing that info may differ slightly depending on where you live. 

The IRS provides a list of state government revenue sites to help you get the process started. 

Want to learn more about tracking your federal refund?

Get the latest on checking your federal refund status by visiting our Where is My Refund page today! Where Is My Refund makes it easier than ever to track your 2019 state refund, 2019 federal refund and 2019 amended tax return and know where your refund is every step of the way. 

And if you have yet to file your tax return, Liberty Tax® offers free, easy-to-use tools to organize your forms, calculate what you owe and get your return in tip-top shape for the upcoming tax season. 

To learn more, visit your local Liberty Tax® pro today.

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