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You’re probably eager for your IRS tax refund to hit your bank account to use or put away in savings. But is there a faster way to get your money?
The answer is: Yes! There are ways to speed up the tax refund process; however, the IRS’s timeline can lag if there are errors with your tax return or other issues along the way.
To find out how soon you can expect your refund, let’s take a look at how the tax refund process works, the estimated tax refund schedule for 2023, and tips to get your refund earlier.
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When will I get my tax refund? Know your options
If you e-filed your return, you can expect to receive a refund through direct deposit faster than if you mailed in your tax documents. According to the IRS,² paper tax returns are mailed out within six to eight weeks, while those filed electronically will be issued in less than three weeks – even faster if you choose direct deposit.
Receiving your refund as a paper check will slow down the process. If you want your money faster, e-filing and choosing direct deposit is the way to go. Although direct deposit is faster, you should still expect to wait a few extra days for the funds to be available in your account. Depending on your financial institution, your waiting time may vary.
To e-file, you can file online through reliable websites like TurboTax, TaxAct, or E-file or through the IRS Free File tool.
When e-filing, you’ll indicate how you want to receive your payment. While direct deposit is the most popular, there are several ways to receive your tax refund:
- Direct deposit (can be split among three separate financial accounts)
- Paper check
- Prepaid debit card holding the value of the refund
- Purchase of up to $5,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds
- Deposit into TreasuryDirect online account
- Contribution to a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or SEP-IRA
- Contribution to HSA, Archer MSA, or Coverdell ESA
If you’re a Chime member, you can choose “direct deposit” on your tax return software. You then input your Chime Checking Account number and corresponding routing number, and that’s it!
From there, you just have to wait for your refund to show up in your account. Once your refund is available, Chime will send you a text alert and email. This way, you will know that the money is there the second you receive it.
When choosing your delivery option, remember that it will affect how quickly you receive your money. Again, direct deposit is the fastest and safest way to get your tax refund, and the IRS recommends this method to taxpayers across the board.
Not too fast:Filing your taxes as early as possible certainly gets you your refund faster, but make sure you take advantage of all the tax write-offs you’re eligible for. Here are eight tax deductions you might not have thought of.
2023 IRS tax fund schedule
How soon you’re likely to receive your refund is determined in part by the IRS schedule. This schedule varies depending on:
- When you file: Filing earlier in the year may yield quicker results. If you file closer to the deadline, the IRS may be dealing with a more considerable backlog of returns to sort through.
- How you file: Filing electronically can get you your return in roughly three weeks (two with direct deposit). Note that it may take a couple of days for the IRS to receive your return, even when you e-file.
- What credits you claim: When you claim certain tax credits, like the Child Tax Credit or the Estimated Income Tax Credit, expect a delay of up to a month while the IRS confirms your eligibility.
Important tax dates in 2023
The IRS will likely start accepting income tax returns on January 31, 2023, though potential end-of-2022 tax legislation can alter this day.
The deadline for 2022 tax returns is April 18, 2023. This marks a return to a normal tax schedule after several years of extended deadlines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
First time filing? Find out which tax bracket you’re in to see how big your return could be.
Chart: Estimated tax refund timeline
Based on predictions from CPA Practice Advisor,³ we designed a sample chart that shows an estimated timeline for when taxpayers who use direct deposit can expect to receive their refunds.
CPA Practice Advisor’s predictions are based on current information from the IRS and projections from previous years. These dates might change due to extenuating circumstances or taxpayer-specific situations.
|E-filing return accepted||Direct deposit sent|
|January 31||February 11|
|February 15||February 26|
|March 1||March 12|
|March 15||March 26|
|April 1||April 16|
|April 15||April 26|
Note: This table shows example dates and assumes an average 11-day turnaround from e-file acceptance to direct deposit issuance. Your return schedule may vary.
3 tips for getting your tax refund faster
While there isn’t any way to guarantee exactly when your tax refund will arrive, there are a few ways to try to speed up the process.
File your completed tax return as soon as possible
At the beginning of January, look out for any forms you expect to receive and will need for your return. If you don’t receive them by January 31, reach out to your employer or client(s) and ask them to send these forms to you. The process can take longer if you are missing a Form W-2 (or Form 1099 if you’re an independent contractor). And don’t forget: Filing your taxes late will delay your return and result in late fees.
Make sure you have the rest of your vital tax documents ready for when you file your return. This includes your W-2(s), 1099s, mortgage and student loan documents, and anything related to your retirement and investment accounts.
Ask for help
If you are unsure how to file your taxes, consider paying for a tax professional. While going to a professional won’t guarantee a faster tax refund (and costs money that reduces the impact of your refund), an expert in the field is less likely to make errors that can hold up your money. They can also advise you on making the best decisions for your particular situation – and find every tax write-off you qualify for.
What to do if you don't receive your tax refund
First, your tax return may have included errors, such as misspelled names, incorrect Social Security numbers, unsigned forms, or incorrect bank account information. It’s also possible your return contains calculation errors.
To avoid mistakes, carefully review your tax return before you click submit. If a tax preparer is completing your return for you, make sure they have all of your correct information.
Another reason for a potential hold-up is if you were a victim of identity theft or fraud. In this case, the IRS may hold onto your return until it can work with you to rectify the situation.
Suppose you don’t experience any of the mishaps above and still feel like things are moving slowly. In that case, you can take three additional steps to check on your funds:
- Use the IRS refund status tracker tool: The IRS’s “Where’s My Refund?” tool is a quick and easy way to check the status of your tax refund. All you have to do is log in to the secure IRS website. To access the system, you will need to input your tax filing status, your Social Security number, and the amount of your tax refund. This will help you monitor the status of your refund and give you a better idea of when the money will be deposited.
- Call the IRS to check on the status of your refund: You can dial the IRS hotline at 800-829-1040. Again, you will need to provide your Social Security number, tax filing status, and the amount of the refund you are expecting.
- Use the free IRS app called IRS2Go: After downloading the app, similar to the online platform, you’ll need to enter the required information into the mobile tool for an update. It’s never been easier to check your tax status while on the go!
More tax help: If you’re filing for the first time, brush up on these common tax definitions everyone should know.
My tax refund was accepted. When will it be approved?
The IRS will provide a deposit date or mail date as soon your return has been processed and your refund approved. Most refunds will be issued in less than 21 days, and you can keep track of your refund status starting 24 hours after electronically filing your return. Depending on your delivery option, timelines are subject to change.
Why is it taking so long for my tax refund check to arrive or direct deposit to hit?
The reason for your late refund could be as simple as a slight math or entry error in your return or that the IRS system is clogged up with unusually high processing volumes. Some of the most common delays are due to entry errors, tax fraud, or the IRS falling behind due to the number of filings.
If you suspect that you may be a tax fraud victim, you can contact the IRS. If the IRS uses your tax refund to offset your debts, such as unpaid student loans, state taxes, or child support, the Federal Bureau of the Fiscal Service will notify you as to why your refund was withheld and which debt it offset. Of course, you have the right to dispute the debt with whichever agency seized your refund.
Why is my tax return taking a long time to process?
If your tax refund was accepted, but not yet processed and sent out, there may be a few reasons for the delay. As stated above, there could be an error with your filing, which could hold up the process as the IRS works to fix the issue. If you find that there’s a long waiting period after filing, you can contact the IRS directly or monitor the status of your refund on a daily basis using the IRS Refund Status Tracker Tool.
Your tax refund is (hopefully) on its way
Waiting for your tax refund can be stressful, especially when Uncle Sam owes you a big chunk of change. Choose direct deposit for the fastest refund, and file as soon as possible to get your refund earlier in the year. Don’t forget that you can use free IRS resources to track your tax refund status after filing.
Most importantly, make sure that you set up direct deposit correctly! We know how much of a difference a tax refund can make on your situation – here’s what to do if your tax refund was deposited into the wrong account.
Note: This information is not intended to be tax advice. Consult a tax preparation professional for tax advice.