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How Do I Check When My Tax Refund Will Arrive?

written by: Dorothy Bland•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 10/17/2010

You filed your taxes and you thought the hard part was over. Wrong! For those expecting a tax refund the anticipation of waiting for their check to arrive can be overwhelming. Find out when you can expect to receive your refund and what steps to take if your tax refund does not show up on time.

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    When to Expect Your IRS Tax Refund

    Still waiting on your refund? Still checking the mailbox or your bank account for your IRS tax refund? Don't let IRS phishing scams con you into giving out your personal information to a scam artist. Thankfully, the IRS makes it easy to check your IRS tax refund status and find out when you can expect a rebate.

    Those who e-file their tax return can receive a refund twice as fast as those who file by mail. Before your refund can be processed however, it has to be accepted by the IRS. Most tax returns are accepted within two days of e-filing and are stamped with a date and time to indicate when they were accepted. This date and time will determine the schedule used to issue refunds.

    IRS tax refunds are typically processed on Fridays, those who choose direct deposit, will receive their refund the following week after their return has been accepted. For those who request a paper check when e-filing an additional week is needed to allow for processing and printing checks. For example, those who e-file and have their tax refund accepted October 14 – October 21, 2010 can expect to have their direct deposit transmitted to their account on October 29 or a paper check mailed on November 5. The IRS publishes a Refund Cycle Chart that can be used to check tax refund status after e-filing. For those who file by paper, expect your refund to take 6 to 8 weeks.

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    Checking the Status of Your IRS Tax Refund

    Check the status of your refund! If your tax refund has not shown up on the date you expect do not panic! There could be a number of reasons for the delay besides the IRS taking your refund. The quickest way to find out your IRS tax refund status is online at their web site. The Where's My Refund? interactive application can be used by e-filers 72 hours after a tax return has been accepted, those who filed by mail will have to wait between 3 to 4 weeks to track their refund online.

    To check status of tax refund at the IRS web site, filers will have to provide their exact refund amount, filing status and social security number. After entering in your information, you may receive a response that your refund is processing, meaning you should wait a week then check again. If your refund has already been issued, a mailing date or direct deposit date may be given. This date only reflects the date the IRS sent your refund. Even after the IRS transmits your direct deposit, it may take your bank several days to release the funds into your account. Paper checks are also often returned back to the IRS due to an incorrect mailing address.

    If your tax refund was returned to the IRS because of incorrect address or has been lost or stolen, the Where's My Refund? application can be used to update your mailing address or trace your refund. If you e-filed your return and provided incorrect direct deposit information your IRS tax refund status gets a little tricky. After your bank rejects the deposit, the funds will be returned to the IRS and a paper check will be issued but the process will set back your refund by several weeks.

    Did you amend your original return? Or need help with a previous year tax return? Then you will have to contact the IRS by phone for refund assistance.

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    Avoid Future Tax Delays

    For a speedy return, make sure to double check all information provided when filing on paper. Filing the wrong status, using sloppy handwriting or the wrong math can seriously delay your refund. To ensure you get your funds when you need them most, consider getting help from a tax professional or e-filing with tax software to avoid common errors.

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    Resources

    • Refund Cycle Chart: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p2043.pdf
    • Where's My Refund?: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96596,00.html
    • IRS Refund Hotline: 800–829–1954

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