If you’re one of the many people expecting a refund from the government this tax season, hooray! That’s great news.
Even if it’s not as big of a refund as you’d like, it’s usually better to get something back, rather than owing.
Forbes has estimated that in a typical year, about 75% of American taxpayers get refunds.
So, that’s a lot of people waiting on a check around this time of year.
If you’re one of the filers who’s done the work and you’re ready for your refund now, are you feeling like you need some answers?
The hard part is, unfortunately, it'll depend on quite a few factors as to when exactly you'll receive that check.
Here's a guide, provided by Forbes:
When you receive your tax refund depends largely on two major factors:
- How did you file your return? E-file or paper file?
- How did you set up your refund -- requesting direct deposit or a paper check?
Based on those factors, your refund is generally expected to be received ...
- E-file with direct deposit: One to three weeks
- E-file with paper check: Four weeks
- Paper file with direct deposit: Six to eight weeks
- Paper file with paper check refund: Up to eight weeks
And of course, in 2021, the pandemic might be slowing things down, as well. Just like last year, we now have about an extra month to file. The new deadline is May 17.
Also, as it was reiterated in the Forbes report, these timelines are estimates. But you might be pleasantly surprised and find the timeline to work in your favor. Many taxpayers have said in the past they’ve received a refund sooner than expected.
It's also important to keep in mind that certain tax credits, such as the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit, can delay a refund, according to the article.
If you're really wondering what the holdup is, or you're just curious about the process, you'll want to check the Where's My Refund? page on the IRS website.
You'll need your Social Security number or ITIN, filing status and the exact refund amount you're anticipating. But if you come prepared, updates to the site are made daily, usually overnight, the website said. Wait 24 hours after e-filing or four weeks after you mailed your return.
Finally, there’s a section on that IRS site called “Should You Call?” And the answer seems to be: No.
"The IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, although some require additional time. You should only call if it has been 21 days or more since you e-filed or 6 weeks or more since you mailed your return."
The IRS has an app, as well, if you want to follow along: IRS 2Go.
As for what might delay your return the No. 1 answer is errors. Be sure to double and triple check that you filled out all the appropriate fields, signed your return and didn't gloss over anything important. Good luck out there!
Online: IRS refund FAQ
This story was first published in 2019. It has since been updated.