Topic 152 - Refund Information

Taxpayers have three options for receiving their individual federal income tax refund:

  • direct deposit (electronic funds transfer) into a checking or savings account, including an individual retirement arrangement (IRA);
  • purchase of U.S. Series I Savings Bonds; or
  • paper check.

If you choose to receive your refund by direct deposit and want to split the refund between two or more accounts, you can request that the refund be deposited in up to three separate accounts, such as checking, savings, or retirement accounts – just complete Form 8888 (PDF), Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases). However, if you file Form 8379 (PDF), Injured Spouse Allocation, you cannot have your refund direct-deposited into more than one account. Your refund should only be deposited directly into accounts that are in your own name, your spouse’s name or both if it’s a joint account. Please note that to receive your refund by direct deposit (whether into one account or more), the total refund amount must be $1.00 or more.

If you e-file a complete and accurate tax return, your refund should be issued within 21 days of the received date. This time frame does not include mail and IRS handling time for paper returns. A complete and accurate paper tax return refund will usually be issued within six to eight weeks from the date it is received.

The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Where’s My Refund? has the most up to date information available about your refund. The tool is updated once a day so you don’t need to check more often. IRS representatives can research the status of your return only if it’s been 21 days or more since you filed electronically, more than six weeks since you mailed your paper return, or if Where’s My Refund? directs you to contact us.

Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible your tax return may require review and take longer.

Use Where's My Refund? to get your personalized refund status. Just use IRS2Go, our free mobile app, from an iPhone or Android device, or go to IRS.gov. Both are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can start checking on the status of your return within 24 hours after we have received your e-filed return or 4 weeks after you mail a paper return.

Have your 2013 tax return handy so you can provide your social security number, your filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund shown on your return.

If you do not have Internet access, you may call the Refund Hotline at 800-829-1954. Where’s My Refund? includes information for the most recent tax year filed in the current year and does not include information about amended returns. To check the status of an amended return use Where’s My Amended Return? on IRS.gov.

The Where’s My Refund? tool includes a tracker that displays progress through 3 stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved and (3) Refund Sent. Where’s My Refund? will provide an actual personalized refund date as soon as the IRS processes your tax return and approves your refund.

Where’s My Refund? provides the most accurate and complete information we have. Unless Where’s My Refund? tells you to call, there’s no need. Updates to refund status are made no more than once a day - usually at night.

Processing may take longer under certain circumstances. Refunds from amended returns will generally be issued within 12 weeks. Injured spouse claims can take longer depending on the circumstances. Refer to Topic 203 for more information about injured spouse claims. Refund claims associated with an application for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) also take additional processing time. Refer to Topic 857 for more information about ITINs.

You can also refer to Topic 303 for a checklist of common errors when preparing your tax return and for additional items that may delay the processing of your return.

If you receive a refund to which you are not entitled, or one for an amount that is more than you expected, do not cash the check until you receive a notice explaining the difference; then follow the instructions on the notice.

On the other hand, if you receive a refund for a smaller amount than you expected, you may cash the check, and, if it is determined that you should have received more, you will later receive a check for the difference. You will also get a notice explaining the difference. Follow the instructions on the notice.

The IRS will help you obtain a replacement for a refund check that we verify as lost or stolen.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: July 10, 2014