It’s that time of year again. Social media is flooded with memes and funny posts from people religiously checking their bank account to see when their tax refund finally shows up. And results in either a funny post about how they feel as wealthy as a royal now. Or they seethe in anger, either because they feel like the IRS is taking too long — or they didn’t get back as big a refund as they’d hoped.
All of which is to say: We’re now fully into this year’s tax season (covering calendar year 2021). And while we know that more than 160 million individual returns are expected to be filed by this year’s April 18th deadline, there are still some important questions people want to know that don’t have full certainty attached to them. It’s no big secret what those questions are, either: Where’s my tax refund, and how big will it be?
Where’s my tax refund?
Last year, more than 128 million Americans got back an average tax refund of $2,775 from the IRS, according to the tax agency.
This year, in an update posted to the IRS website just a few days ago, the tax agency is reiterating that most people will get their refund in 21 days or less. That is, when they choose to e-file their return. And when they also elect to have their tax refund direct-deposited. Those are two common but super-important conditions that impact the estimated 21-day outcome.
Obviously, refunds coming through the postal service should be expected to take at least that long, and likely longer. What’s more, the IRS mentions some other caveats that could delay a refund being sent out. For example, if your refund contains errors, is incomplete, or “requires further security review,” it’ll take longer to get a refund. And if you thought paper refund checks generally take longer than you’d like for them to arrive? The IRS warns that “paper-filed tax returns and paper refund checks will take even longer this year.”
That’s partly because of a pandemic-induced backlog of tax returns, plus short-staffing.
IRS website and tips
Here, meanwhile, are some tips from the tax agency that you’ll want to keep in mind as you wait for your tax refund to arrive. As well as some details to know about the IRS website, too.
At that special page, taxpayers will find everything from information related to the second half of the child tax credit to details about other important benefits, like the Recovery Rebate Credit. As well as important tips if you have a tax return stuck in the IRS’ processing backlog.
Check here (Where’s My Refund?) to get the status of your refund. Per the IRS: “You can check the status within 24 hours after we’ve received your e-file return or 4 weeks after you’ve mailed a paper return. It has the most up-to-date information about your refund.”
- Don’t assume calling the IRS will give you more specifics about your refund than the Where’s My Refund? link does. Unless that link directs you to call the tax agency, the IRS says its representatives won’t be able to provide any additional information.
- Again, from the agency: “If Where’s My Refund? says that we’re still processing your return, our representatives won’t be able to give you a specific refund date.”