When Am I Getting My Tax Return

Filing tax returns can be a complex process, but many taxpayers look forward to receiving their tax refund. This begs the question, “When am I getting my tax return?” The timeline can vary based on several factors, including how you filed your taxes, whether you’re receiving a paper check or direct deposit, and whether your tax return requires further review.

Standard Processing Time

The IRS states that they issue most refunds within 21 days of receiving your tax return. This timeframe applies to both electronic and paper filings. However, this is a general guideline, and individual experiences may differ.

If you e-filed your return and are expecting a refund via direct deposit, this is typically the fastest way to receive your refund. Alternatively, if you mailed in a paper return or are receiving a check in the mail, the process may take a bit longer.

Where’s My Refund?

The IRS has a tool called “Where’s My Refund?” available on their website and through their mobile app, IRS2Go. This tool allows you to check the status of your refund after you’ve filed your tax return.

To use the tool, you will need to provide your Social Security number or ITIN, your filing status, and the exact refund amount shown on your tax return. Within 24 hours of e-filing your return (or 4 weeks if you mailed a paper return), you should be able to view your refund status. The tool is updated once a day, usually overnight, so you only need to check once a day.

Potential Delays

While the IRS aims to process returns within 21 days, there can be delays. If there are errors on your return, such as incorrect information or missing documentation, this can slow down the process. Additionally, if the IRS suspects identity theft or fraud, they may hold your return for further review.

The IRS will typically send you a letter if there is an issue with your return that could delay your refund. It’s crucial to respond promptly and accurately to any requests for additional information.

Direct Deposit vs. Paper Check

How you choose to receive your refund can also affect the timing. Direct deposit is generally the fastest method. If you’re set up for direct deposit, the refund can be transferred directly into your bank account. On the other hand, if you’re receiving a paper check, it has to be mailed to your address, which can take additional time.


In general, the IRS issues tax refunds within 21 days of receiving a tax return, but the exact timing can vary based on several factors. To check the status of your refund, use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on the IRS website. And remember, the fastest way to get your refund is to e-file your return and choose direct deposit. As always, the best practice is to file your taxes early to ensure a timely refund.

By Debra Berrier