WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers that the most convenient way to check on a tax refund is by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at IRS.gov or through the IRS2Go Mobile App.

Taxpayers can start checking their refund status within 24 hours after an e-filed return is received. In addition, “Where’s My Refund?" provides a personalized date after the return is processed and a refund is approved.

Go paperless

Now more than ever, the safest and best way to file a complete and accurate tax return and get a refund is to file electronically and use direct deposit. Taxpayers can visit IRS.gov/filing for more details about IRS Free File, Free File Fillable Forms and free tax preparation sites. E-filing is also available through a trusted tax professional.

Refund timing

While most tax refunds are issued within 21 days, some may take longer because the return requires additional review.  

 There are several reasons a tax refund may take long:

  • The return may include errors or be incomplete.
  • The return could be affected by identity theft or fraud.
  • The return includes a claim for the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit.
  • The time between the IRS issuing the refund and the bank posting it to an account since many banks do not process payments on weekends or holidays.

The IRS will contact taxpayers by mail if more information is needed to process a return. 

Taxpayers claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit on their tax return will not cause a delay in the processing of that tax return. However, it is important that taxpayers claim the correct amount. If a correction is needed, there may be a slight delay in processing the return and the IRS will send a notice explaining any change made. Refunds may be delayed while the IRS makes any necessary corrections.

Fast and easy refund updates
Taxpayers can use “Where’s My Refund?” to start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an electronically filed return or four weeks after the taxpayer mails a paper return. The tool’s tracker displays progress through three phases: (1) Return Received; (2) Refund Approved; and (3) Refund Sent. To use it a taxpayer must enter their Social security number or ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) , their filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of their refund. The IRS updates “Where’s My Refund?” once a day, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check more frequently.

Calling IRS doesn’t speed up refund timing
Calling the IRS won’t expedite a tax refund. The information available on “Where’s My Refund?” is the same information available to IRS telephone assistors.

Most taxpayers who want to prepare their own returns can file electronically for free with IRS Free File. Alternatively, taxpayers who qualify can get free tax help from trained volunteers at community sites around the country.

Ignore refund myths

Some people mistakenly believe they can expedite their refund by ordering a tax transcript, calling the IRS or calling their tax preparer. Ordering a tax transcript will not help a taxpayer get their refund faster or find out when they'll get their refund.

Filing options

Taxpayers can use several options to help find a paid tax preparer. One resource is Choosing a Tax Professional, which includes a list of consumer tips for selecting a tax professional.

The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications is a free searchable and sortable database. It includes the name, city, state and zip code of credentialed return preparers who are CPAs, enrolled agents or attorneys, as well as those who have completed the requirements for the IRS Annual Filing Season Program. A search of the database can help taxpayers verify credentials and qualifications of tax professionals.

Taxpayers can find answers to questions, forms and instructions and easy-to-use tools online at IRS.gov anytime. No appointment required and no waiting on hold.

This news release is part of a group of IRS tips called the Tax Time Guide. The guide is designed to help taxpayers as they near the May 17, 2021, tax filing deadline.