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You’ve done your taxes and now you can relax while you wait for your refund.  Usually after 24 hours, you can start tracking your money using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov.  You’ll need your social security number or ITIN, filing status and exact refund amount to check your status.  Once you provide the required information, you’ll most likely get a message saying, “Your return is being processed”.  You may even see the same exact message for days, weeks or months.  But what does it mean? 

The tracker goes through 3 stages

The “Where’s My Refund?” tool allows you to follow your return from the moment it’s received until your refund is issued.  The tracker goes through 3 stages: Return Received, Refund Approved or Refund Sent.  Here’s what each one means:

  • Return Received – The IRS has received your return and it’s being processed.
  • Refund Approved – They’ve processed your return and your refund has been approved.  It will also provide an actual refund date.
  • Refund Sent – Your refund has been sent to your bank for direct deposit or a paper check has been mailed.

The tool is updated daily, usually overnight.  So, there’s no need to check multiple times a day.

When to expect your refund

Even though the IRS expects to issue most refunds within 21 days, some returns take longer to process than others.  Your refund may be delayed if:

  • Your return has mistakes or is incomplete
  • The IRS suspects identity theft or fraud
  • Your Recovery Rebate Credit amount needs correcting
  • Your return needs further review
  • You claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit using 2019 income
  • You filed Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation (can take 14 weeks to be processed)

Your return will also take longer to be processed if you file by paper.  To speed things up, the IRS strongly recommends e-filing your return and having your refund direct deposited into your bank account.  If you still need to file, give ezTaxReturn a try.  It’s the fastest and easiest way to do your taxes.

Should you call the IRS?

It’s hard to be patient, especially when you’re counting on your refund for something important.  But you should only call the IRS if it’s been more than 21 days since you e-filed or the “Where’s My Refund?” tool tells you to contact them.