Avoid the rush: Fastest way to check tax refund is ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool at IRS.gov

WASHINGTON — Offering time-saving alternatives to a telephone call, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers they can get fast answers to their refund questions by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool available on IRS.gov and through the IRS2Go app.

The IRS issues nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, and the fastest way to get a refund is to use IRS e-file and direct deposit. Taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional ChildTax Credit will see their refunds, which by law must be held until mid-February, after Feb. 27.

The time around Presidents Day is a peak period for telephone calls to the IRS, resulting in longer than normal hold times for callers. Questions about tax refunds are the most frequent reason people call the IRS. People are encouraged to first check “Where’s My Refund?” or review the IRS Services Guide which links to many IRS online services.

Please note: Ordering a tax transcript will not speed delivery of tax refunds nor does the posting of a tax transcript to a taxpayer’s account determine the timing of a refund delivery. Calls to request transcripts for this purpose are unnecessary. Transcripts are available online and by mail at Get Transcript

IRS telephone assistors can only research a refund’s status if it has been 21 days or more since the taxpayer filed electronically, six weeks since they mailed a paper return or if “Where’s My Refund?” directs a taxpayer to call.

Taxpayers can avoid the Presidents Day rush by using the "Where’s My Refund?" tool. All that is needed is the taxpayer’s Social Security number, tax filing status (single, married, head of household) and exact amount of the tax refund claimed on the return. Alternatively, taxpayers may call 800-829-1954 for the same information.

Within 24 hours of filing a tax return electronically, the tool can tell taxpayers that their returns have been received. That time extends to four weeks if a paper return is mailed to the IRS, which is another reason to use IRS e-file and direct deposit.

Once the tax return is processed, “Where’s My Refund?” will tell a taxpayer when their refund is approved and provide a date when they can expect to receive it. “Where’s My Refund?” is updated no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check the status more often.

By law, the IRS cannot release tax refunds for Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit related tax returns before mid-February. “Where’s My Refund?” will be updated by Feb. 23 for most early filers who claimed the EITC or ACTC. These taxpayers will not see a refund date on “Where's My Refund?” or through their software packages until then. The earliest EITC and ACTC related refunds should be available in taxpayer bank accounts and debit cards starting Feb. 27, if taxpayers used direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax returns.

While the IRS still expects to issue more than nine out of 10 tax refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible a particular tax return may require additional review and a refund could take longer. Many different factors can affect the timing of a refund. Also, it is important to take into consideration the time it takes for a financial institution to post the refund to an account or for it to be delivered by mail.

Most taxpayers will receive a refund, but many also may owe additional tax if they did not withhold enough during 2018. Taxpayers who owe additional tax should use digital payment options. Taxpayers who owe should do a Paycheck Check Up to ensure enough tax is withheld during 2019 to avoid an unexpected tax bill.