2015 Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions
How quickly will I get my refund?
The IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 calendar days.
What is the best and fastest way to get information about my refund?
Use can use the IRS2Go mobile app or the Where’s My Refund? tool. You can start checking on the status of your tax return within 24 hours after the IRS has received your e-filed return or 4 weeks after a paper return is mailed.
Will I see a date for my refund right away?
Where’s My Refund? will not give you a refund date right away. The IRS must first receive your tax return and then has to process it and approve your refund. Where’s My Refund? will give you a personalized date once your refund is approved.
Will calling the IRS help me get my refund any faster?
Calling the IRS unfortunately will not speed up your refund. IRS representatives can only research the status of your refund if it has been 21 days or more since you filed electronically, more than 6 weeks since your paper return was mailed, or Where’s My Refund? directs you to the IRS. If the IRS needs more information to process your tax return, they will be in contact by mail. Otherwise Where’s My Refund? has the most up to date information available about your refund. Use the IRS2Go mobile app or use the Where’s My Refund? tool. Both are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How will I know if the IRS received my tax return and if my refund is being processed?
Use the Where’s My Refund? tool to follow your tax return from receipt to issuance of your refund. While your tax return is being processed you can follow it through three stages: Return Received,Refund Approved and Refund Sent.
When can I start checking on my refund status?
You can start checking on the status of your return within 24 hours after the IRS has received your electronically filed tax return or 4 weeks after a paper tax return is mailed.
How often does Where’s My Refund? update?
Where’s My Refund? updates are made no more than once per day, usually at night.
What is happening when Where’s My Refund? shows the status of my refund is: Return Received?
This means the IRS has your tax return and is processing it. Your personalized refund date will be available as soon as the IRS finishes processing your return and confirms that your refund has been approved.
How long will it take for my status to change from “Return Received” to Refund Approved?
Sometimes your status may change from “Return Received” to “Refund Approved” in just a few days, but it could take longer and a date will not be provided until your refund has been approved. However, if Where’s My Refund? shows the status of your refund is: Return Received the IRS has received your tax return and is processing it.
Does Where’s My Refund always display my refund status with the tracker showing three steps?
No. In some cases the tracker graphic will not be shown if your return is being reviewed prior to step two: “Refund Approved,” and instead an explanation or instructions will be provided depending on the situation. This can happen even if you previously checked Where’s My Refund and it showed the status as “Return Received” along with the tracker. In these cases be assured that the IRS has your tax return and is processing it.
Will ordering a transcript help you determine when you’ll get your refund?
No, unfortunately a tax transcript will not help you determine when you will get your refund. This is among the common myths and misconceptions that are often repeated in social media. The codes listed on tax transcripts do not provide any early insight into when a refund will be issued. The best way to check on your refund is by visiting “Where’s My Refund?”. While transcripts include a lot of detailed information regarding actions taken on your account, the codes do not mean the same thing for everyone and they do not necessarily reflect how any of these actions do or do not impact the amount or timing of your refund. IRS transcripts are best and most often used to validate past income and tax filing status for mortgage, student and small business loan applications and to help with tax preparation.
What is happening when Where’s My Refund? shows the status of my refund is: Refund Approved?
This means the IRS has processed your return and your refund has been approved. The IRS is now preparing to send your refund to your bank or directly to you in the mail if you requested a paper check. This status will tell you when your refund is scheduled to be sent to your bank and, if you elected the direct deposit option, a date by which it should be credited to your account. Please wait until it’s been five days from the date the IRS sent the refund to your bank to check with your bank about the status of your refund. This time frame is provided to allow for the variations in how and when banks deposit funds.
What is happening when Where’s My Refund? shows the status of my tax return is: Refund Sent?
This means the IRS has sent your refund to your financial institution for direct deposit. This status will tell you when your refund was sent to your bank. It may take your financial institution 1 – 5 days to deposit the funds into your account. Please wait until it’s been five days from the date the IRS sent the refund to your bank to check with your bank about the status of your refund. This time frame is provided to allow for the variations in how and when banks deposit funds. If you requested a paper check this means your check has been mailed. It could take several weeks for your check to arrive in the mail.
Why is my refund different than the amount reflected on the filed tax return?
If you owe past-due federal tax, state income tax, state unemployment compensation debts, child support, spousal support, or certain federal nontax debts, such as student loans, all or part of your refund may be used (offset) to pay the past-due amount. Offsets for federal taxes are made by the IRS. All other offsets are made by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Fiscal Services (BFS)(Formerly the Financial Management Service or FMS). For federal tax offsets, you will receive a notice from the IRS. For all other offsets, you will receive a notice from BFS.
Another reason your refund amount may be different is if the IRS made changes to your tax return that changed your refund amount. In this case you will get a notice in the mail from the IRS explaining the changes. These reasons will be reflected in Where’s My Refund if they apply to your refund.
What if I am counting on my refund for something important? Can I expect to receive it on time?
Be careful not to count on getting your refund by a certain date to make major purchases or pay other financial obligations. Many different factors can affect the timing of your refund after the IRS receives it for processing. Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible your tax return may require additional review and take longer. Also, if you are anticipating a refund, take into consideration the time it takes for your financial institution to post the refund to your account, or for mail delivery.
It’s been longer than 21 days since the IRS received my return and I have not gotten my refund. Why?
Some tax returns take longer to process than others for many reasons, including when a return:
- includes errors,
- is incomplete,
- needs further review,
- is impacted by identity theft or fraud,
- includes Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, which could take up to 14 weeks to process.
If the IRS needs more information to process your tax return, they will be in contact by mail.
IRS representatives can only research the status of your return if it’s been 21 days or more since your return was filed electronically, if your paper return was mailed more than six weeks ago, or if Where’s My Refund? directs you to contact us.
Will Where’s My Refund? provide a refund status if an amended return was filed?
No, it does not provide information about amended tax returns. However you can check the status of your Form 1040X (PDF), Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, using the “Where’s My Amended Return?” (WMAR) online tool and the new toll-free telephone line 866-464-2050 three weeks after your amended return is filed. WMAR provides personalized, automated, and the most up-to-date information on the status of amended returns in both English and Spanish. You can check the status of a Form 1040X filed for the current year and up to three years prior.