How to Track Your Income Tax Refund and Know When to Expect it

More than 45 million taxpayers have filed their income tax forms so far this year, and many are wanting to know when to expect their refund payment. For those who haven’t filed yet, there is less than a month before the filing deadline of April 18. A six-month extension can be filed if more time is needed. IRS tax refund

The Fastest Method for Receiving a Refund

mailboxThe IRS has free tools available to help taxpayers track when they will receive their money, whether in their bank account or mailbox. The IRS says that filing electronically is the fastest way to get a refund back, using direct deposit into a bank account. They say that it typically takes 3 weeks from the time they get the tax return when e-filed, even with their current backlog of returns. Paper returns that are mailed in take longer to process and have a refund issued. The IRS says to expect it to take 6-8 weeks for the return to be processed and sent out. For refunds that are deposited directly, some banks can take up to 5 days to release the money into your account.

IRS Tools for Tracking Refunds

One of the IRS tools online is what is called Where’s My Refund. It uses the IRS2Go app to check your refund status. The app must be downloaded and then a Social Security number, exact refund amount, and filing status will be needed to set it up. You can start checking your status 24 hours after e-filing your return. IRS2Go is the official app of the IRS and can be used for more than tracking your refund status It can be used to make payments, enroll for helpful tax tips, and locate free tax preparation help. It is available for Apple and Android phones, in English and Spanish. The information is updated once a day.

IRS2Go app

The third method of tracking a refund is to register for an IRS account online. The advantage of this account is that you can see information from the return that was just filed, see past years returns, see what Economic Impact Payments you received, see information about advance Child Tax Credit payments, and view notices from the IRS. You can also see the balance of what is owed to the IRS, and make payments.

Refund Terminology

There are three terms you may see when you check your refund status online or on the app.
  • Received – means they received your return and are processing it.
  • Approved – your return has been processed and the amount of your refund, if you have one coming, has been confirmed.
  • Sent – the refund has been sent out, either to the bank as a direct deposit, or in the form of a check sent in the mail.

What Will Be Included in the Refund

What will be included with your refund? Parents could receive the remaining amount of their child tax credit money if they didn’t get it all earlier. Also, for those who never received the 3rd and last stimulus check, that amount might be included in the refund.  

Jeffrey Ressler owns a boutique, full-service accounting firm in Boca Raton, Florida that provides individualized financial services, expert tax preparation, tax planning for individuals and companies, and finding solutions to IRS problems.