Despite the government shutdown earlier this year, there was a minimal impact on processing tax returns and issuing refund payments. We’re back to business as usual for the IRS and the typical processing times are applicable again.
The speed of receiving your refund is tied to how you like to prepare and submit your tax returns. If you want to get your refund as fast as possible, you need to complete the whole process electronically. If you feel more comfortable submitting tax return on paper or getting a refund check, you will have to settle for a longer delivery time.
When to expect your tax refund.
- eFile – Direct deposit: Filing your taxes electronically is becoming more popular. For once, you get a confirmation from the IRS that your return was accepted and is being processed. If there are any errors, the return is rejected and you have the opportunity to fix it and resubmit without wasting any time. The IRS issues most refunds within 21 days of receiving the return – this is the fastest way to get your money. I’ve submitted my tax returns this way in the past, and the refund has always been in my bank account sooner than the 21 days.
- eFile – Check: Similar to the previous option, the main goal is to submit the return and make sure it is accepted by the IRS. Issuing a check takes longer than scheduling an electronic transaction, but it doesn’t slow down the refund issuance too much. You also need to factor in mail delivery time.
- Paper file – check: When submitting a return on paper and requesting a check, you’re guaranteed to wait for the refund the longest. The IRS estimates this to be six weeks or longer from the time you mail the return. Naturally, if time is no issue for you then there is nothing to worry about. The biggest problem with submitting paper returns is when the IRS questions it. The only way to resolve the problem is by mailing it back to you and address the issue, extending the total processing time.
Having said all that, if you eFile the tax return next week (between March 3 and 8), you can expect to receive the refund around March 23. And if you wait to file taxes until the last moment – April 15 – you can expect to receive it in the first week of May. Note that this is the peak time to submit returns and this may impact processing and refund issuance times.
Where’s my refund?
When your tax return is processed and the refund issued, you can start tracking it. The IRS has developed a web page to inquire on where’s your refund. The information is updated every 24 hours and to get details on your refund, you will need to enter the following details:
- Social security number.
- Filing status – single, married, etc..
- Refund amount – this has to be the exact amount as shown on your tax return.
You can get the same information on your mobile device. IRS2Go mobile app has the same capability; additionally, it allows to make payments to the IRS, offers free tax help, and provides ways to contact the agency.