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Tax Time Guide: ‘Where’s My Refund?’ Tool Best Way to Check Tax Refund Status

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WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers today that while more than 90 percent of federal tax refunds are issued in 21 days or less, some refunds may take longer. Many factors can affect the timing of a refund after the IRS receives the return. Also, taxpayers should take into consideration the time it takes a financial institution to post the refund to an account or for it to arrive in the mail.

The best way to check the status of a refund is online through the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at IRS.gov or via the IRS2Go mobile app.

“The majority of taxpayers receive a refund, and we understand those filers want to know when their refund will be issued. Our ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool continues to be the best way for taxpayers to get the latest information,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

This is the ninth in a series of 10 IRS tips called the Tax Time Guide. The guide is designed to help taxpayers as they near the April 18 tax filing deadline.

Taxpayers eager to know when their refund will be arriving should use the “Where’s My Refund” tool rather than calling the IRS and waiting on hold or ordering a tax transcript. The IRS updates the status of refunds once a day, usually overnight, so checking more than once a day will not produce new information. “Where’s My Refund?” has the same information available to IRS telephone assistors so there is no need to call unless requested to do so by ”Where’s My Refund?”

Contrary to a myth rumored in social media, ordering a tax transcript will not help taxpayers find out when they will get their refund. The IRS notes that the information on a transcript does not necessarily reflect the amount or timing of a refund. While taxpayers can use a transcript to validate past income and tax filing status for mortgage, student and small business loan applications and to help with tax preparation, they should use “Where’s My Refund?” to check the status of their refund.

“Where’s My Refund?” can be checked 24 hours after the IRS has received an e-filed return or four weeks after receipt of a mailed paper return. “Where’s My Refund?” has a tracker that displays progress through three stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved and (3) Refund Sent.

Users who access “Where’s My Refund?” on IRS.gov or the IRS2Go app must have information from their current, pending tax return to access their refund information.

The IRS continues to strongly encourage the use of e-file and direct deposit as the fastest and safest way to file an accurate return and receive a tax refund. The IRS expects that more than four out of five tax returns will be filed electronically, with a similar proportion of refunds issued through direct deposit.

The IRS Free File program offers free brand-name software to those with incomes of $64,000 or less. Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. All taxpayers, regardless of income, can use Free File fillable forms, which provide electronic versions of IRS paper forms to complete and file. Both options are available only through IRS.gov.

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