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How Long Does It Take To Get My Tax Refund?

Written by a TurboTax Expert • Reviewed by a TurboTax CPAUpdated for Tax Year 2023 • April 5, 2024 2:46 PM
OVERVIEW

Wondering how long it takes to get your tax refund? It's a common question during tax season, and the answer can influence your financial planning. By e-filing and selecting direct deposit, you’re choosing the quickest path to receive your refund. Let's unravel the timeline from submitting your tax return to the moment your refund hits your bank account.

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Key Takeaways

  • Quick IRS Response: E-filing? Expect the IRS to acknowledge your return within 24 to 48 hours.
  • IRS Refund Timetable: Post-acceptance, the processing time typically unfolds on an IRS-determined schedule.
  • Speedy Refund Delivery: The majority of refunds are dispatched within 21 days of e-file acceptance.
  • Stay Informed: The IRS Where’s My Refund?  tool and their hotline (800-829-1954) offer real-time updates starting 24 hours after e-filing. 

When you e-file your tax return with TurboTax and choose direct deposit, you initiate a process designed for efficiency. Within one or two days, the IRS should notify you that your return has been accepted. Assuming all your details match their records, you'll move straight onto the IRS payment timetable. The question "how long does it take to get my tax refund?" typically has a happy answer: less time than you might expect!

From e-filing to IRS acceptance

Once you've taken the step to e-file your tax return, the IRS typically doesn't keep you waiting too long. Within 24 to 48 hours, you'll usually get a notice that the IRS has accepted your return. But what goes on during that time? And what does it mean for your refund timeline?

  • Starting the clock: The moment you press 'Submit' with TurboTax, your tax return is date-stamped and securely transmitted to the IRS. Now it's their turn to review what you’ve sent.

  • IRS checks your details: The IRS swiftly gets to work validating your personal details against their records. This quick but vital step ensures everything's in order before the processing starts.

  • Acceptance marks the start: When your return passes this check, the IRS will officially accept it, kicking off the countdown to your refund. Once accepted, you're officially on the IRS's clock, and your refund is one step closer.

Remember, acceptance by the IRS doesn't mean approval of the refund yet—it just means you have made it to the starting line of the refund process. Keep an eye on the prize: most refunds, especially if you're using direct deposit, arrive within a 21-day window after acceptance.

Where’s my tax refund?

You've filed your taxes, they've been accepted, and now the big question looms: "How long does it take for the IRS to approve my refund?" While the wheels of tax bureaucracy turn, here's what you can expect in terms of timing.

  • IRS approval: The IRS works to review and approve refunds quickly and efficiently. In fact, historically, more than 9 out of 10 refunds are processed and approved within 21 days of e-file acceptance. Your anticipation builds, knowing that approval signals the final leap towards your bank account boost.

  • Check the IRS refund schedule: Each tax season, the IRS publishes a refund schedule—your roadmap to when you can expect your refund. While the IRS doesn't guarantee refund dates, the published schedule is a reliable indicator of when you might receive your direct deposit or refund check.

  • Receiving your refund after approval: Once the IRS approves your refund, how long does it take for it to show in your bank account? The good news is, not long. Financial institutions typically process direct deposit refunds within a few days, though timing can vary depending on bank processing times and volumes.

  • Monitoring the arrival of your refund: The anticipation of a tax refund can be likened to waiting for a seed to sprout—it requires a bit of patience but bears fruit in time. You can speed up  the process by using direct deposit, the electronic transfer method that ensures the swiftest delivery of your refund from the U.S. Treasury to your bank account. Usually, banks take one to two days to deposit funds, but it may happen even quicker.

During these steps, when you're wondering, "when will I get my tax refund?" The best approach is to stay informed and keep in touch with your bank, since they'll provide the final step in the refund process.

TurboTax Tip:

Turn to TurboTax's Where's My Refund tracking tool. It's built to help you pinpoint the status of your refund and navigate common causes for delays.

Tracking your tax refund

After your taxes are in the IRS's hands, you might feel like you're in the dark about your refund. Don't worry—there are simple ways to shed light on your refund status and estimated arrival time.

Checking status online

The quickest path to peace of mind is the IRS's Where's My Refund? tool. This online platform lets you track your refund and provides tailored updates based on the processing of your tax return. It's updated once a day, so you won't miss a beat.

To use the tool, you'll need your Social Security number or ITIN, filing status, and the exact refund amount you're expecting. You can begin checking the status of your refund within 24 hours after your return is e-filed, and rest easy knowing you have the latest information at your fingertips.

After my refund is approved, how long until I get my direct deposit?

Once the IRS gives your refund the green light, it generally takes a few more days for it to reflect in your bank account. Some financial institutions are super quick and may process your refund on the same day, while others might take a day or two longer.

Keep in touch with your bank

Remember, the bridge between IRS approval and the funds arriving in your bank account is your financial institution. Keep them on speed dial (figuratively speaking) during tax season. Knowing your bank's typical processing times will help you set realistic expectations for the moment you can finally say, "My refund's here!"

How can I check the status of my refund?

Once you have e-filed your tax return, there are a few ways to check the status of your refund:

  • You can use the online IRS Where's My Refund? tool (fastest option)
  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1954 

The online tool will get you personalized refund information based on the processing of your tax return. They will provide an actual refund date as soon as the IRS processes your tax return and approves your refund. Most refunds will be issued in less than 21 days.

You can start checking the status of your refund within 24 hours after you have e-filed your return. Refund information is updated on the IRS website once a day, overnight.

Remember, the fastest way to get your refund is to e-file and choose direct deposit.

Note: To check on the status of your state tax refund, you'll need to check your state's tax agency website for more details.

What information will I need to check my refund status?

In order to access information about your refund and check the status, you will need:

  • Your Social Security or taxpayer ID number
  • Your filing status
  • The exact refund amount on your return

Why your federal tax refund might be taking longer than expected

It's been over 21 days since the IRS accepted your tax return, and you're starting to wonder, "Why is my refund taking longer than expected?" While most refunds are issued in less than three weeks, several factors can lead to a longer waiting period. Here’s what might be behind the delay:

Possible reasons for a slowdown:

  • Errors in your tax return: Double-check your return for simple oversights or miscalculations; these common errors can hold up the process.
  • Filing status issues: Ensure that you've selected the correct filing status, as mistakes here can cause confusion at the IRS and slow down your refund.
  • Incomplete information: If you've skipped an entry or two on your tax forms, the IRS will need those blanks filled in before proceeding with your refund.
  • Identity theft or fraud: In the unfortunate event that your personal information has been compromised, it could affect the timeliness of your tax filing and subsequent refund.
  • Busy periods for the IRS: Tax season can see peaks and valleys in activity. Filing early or very close to the deadline may result in unexpected processing delays.
  • Banking delays: Occasionally, banks and credit unions experience their own high-traffic periods, which might impede the swift posting of your refund.
  • Outstanding debts: If you owe money for past-due taxes, child support, or other governmental obligations, the IRS might use your refund to offset those debts.

Next steps when facing delays

If you're past the usual refund timeline, it's important to take action. Start with the IRS Where’s My Refund? tool for the latest updates or reach out to the IRS directly if you suspect there's been a serious snarl-up.

IRS communication protocol

While you’re waiting, watch for communication from the IRS. If something's off with your return, they'll let you know through an official letter or notice. Remember, they won't send you a text or slide into your DMs – their communication is always formal and direct.

Navigating refund delays with TurboTax

For additional support, turn to TurboTax's Where's My Refund tracking tool. It's built to help you pinpoint the status of your refund and navigate common causes for delays. 

These articles explain in more detail what may cause a delay:

Will changes to the Child Tax Credit impact when I get my tax refund?

Tax law is ever-evolving, and with changes potentially underway for the Child Tax Credit (CTC), it's natural to wonder about the implications for your tax refund. If you're eligible for the CTC, any updates are significant news, but rest assured, they won't put the brakes on your current refund.

No need for delays

Even with potential legislative changes, don't hold off on submitting your return. The IRS will automatically update your refund if revisions to the CTC are passed after you've filed. Simply put, waiting won't speed up your payment, and swift filing might put your refund in your hands sooner.

Navigating state refunds

Just like with your federal refund, how long it takes to get your state tax refund can differ based on multiple factors, including how you filed (e-file vs. paper file) and whether you chose direct deposit or a check for your refund. While some states process refunds within a few weeks, others may take longer.

Each state operates as a separate taxing authority with its own set of rules and timelines. For example, while the IRS handles federal returns, state tax refunds are the responsibility of state-level departments, such as:

  • The Department of Revenue
  • The Comptroller's Office
  • The State Tax Commission
  • The Department of Taxation

These entities manage their specific refund schedules, which explains why you might receive your federal refund before or after your state refund.

How to stay informed on state refunds

To check the status of your state refund, look for a tool or page on your state government's tax website, often labeled "Where's My Refund?" or something similar. States typically ask for information similar to the IRS, including:

  • Your Social Security number or ITIN
  • The tax year
  • Your exact refund amount
  • Possibly your date of birth

Balancing expectations between federal and state refunds helps you plan financially and ensures timely follow-up on both fronts.

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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.

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  • Maximum Refund Guarantee / Maximum Tax Savings Guarantee - or Your Money Back – Individual Returns: If you get a larger refund or smaller tax due from another tax preparation method by filing an amended return, we'll refund the applicable TurboTax federal and/or state software license purchase price you paid. This guarantee is good for the lifetime of your personal, individual tax return, which Intuit defines as seven years from the date you filed it with TurboTax Desktop. Excludes TurboTax Desktop Business returns. Additional terms and limitations apply. See License Agreement for details.

  • Audit Support Guarantee – Individual Returns: If you receive an audit letter from the IRS or State Department of Revenue based on your 2023 TurboTax individual tax return, we will provide one-on-one question-and-answer support with a tax professional, if requested through our Audit Report Center, for audited individual returns filed with TurboTax Desktop for the current 2023 tax year and, for individual, non-business returns, for the past two tax years (2021, 2022). Audit support is informational only. We will not represent you before the IRS or state tax authority or provide legal advice. If we are not able to connect you to one of our tax professionals, we will refund the applicable TurboTax federal and/or state license purchase price you paid. This guarantee is good for the lifetime of your personal, individual tax return, which Intuit defines as seven years from the date you filed it with TurboTax Desktop. Excludes TurboTax Desktop Business returns. Additional terms and limitations apply. See License Agreement for details.

  • Satisfaction Guarantee/ 60-Day Money Back Guarantee: If you're not completely satisfied with TurboTax Desktop, go to refundrequest.intuit.com within 60 days of purchase and follow the process listed to submit a refund request. You must return this product using your license code or order number and dated receipt.

TurboTax Desktop Business Returns:

  • 100% Accurate Calculations Guarantee – Business Returns: If you pay an IRS or state penalty or interest because of a TurboTax calculation error, we’ll pay you the penalty and interest. Excludes payment plans. You are responsible for paying any additional tax liability you may owe. Additional terms and limitations apply. See License Agreement for details.

  • Maximum Tax Savings Guarantee – Business Returns: If you get a smaller tax due (or larger business tax refund) from another tax preparation method using the same data, TurboTax will refund the applicable TurboTax Business Desktop license purchase price you paid. Additional terms and limitations apply. See License Agreement for details.

  • Satisfaction Guarantee/ 60-Day Money Back Guarantee: If you're not completely satisfied with TurboTax Desktop, go to refundrequest.intuit.com within 60 days of purchase and follow the process listed to submit a refund request. You must return this product using your license code or order number and dated receipt.

TURBOTAX DESKTOP

  • Installation Requirements: Product download, installation and activation requires an Intuit Account and internet connection. Product limited to one account per license code. You must accept the TurboTax License Agreement to use this product. Not for use by paid preparers.

  • TurboTax Desktop Products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees may apply for e-filing state returns. E-file fees may not apply in certain states, check here for details. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase. Software updates and optional online features require internet connectivity.

  • Fastest Refund Possible: Fastest federal tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary. The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.

  • Average Refund Amount: Sum of $3140 is the average refund American taxpayers received based upon IRS data date ending 02/17/23 and may not reflect actual refund amount received.

  • TurboTax Product Support: Customer service and product support hours and options vary by time of year.

  • #1 Best Selling Tax Software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2022 TurboTax products.

  • Deduct From Your Federal or State Refund (if applicable): A $40 Refund Processing Service fee may apply to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.

  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies; Requires Intuit Account. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2021 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2021 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Desktop Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.

  • Audit Defense: Audit Defense is a third-party add-on service provided, for a fee, by TaxResources, Inc., dba Tax Audit. See Membership Agreements at https://turbotax.intuit.com/corp/softwarelicense/ for service terms and conditions.

All features, services, support, prices, offers, terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.

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