IRS Refund Status – Tax Return Timeline for on-Paper and e-File

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is responsible for collecting taxes and processing tax returns in the United States. The IRS issues refunds based on your tax filing method.

IRS Refund Status

The “Where’s My Refund” feature is a tool provided by the IRS that allows taxpayers to track the status of their tax refund. It is accessible on the IRS website or the IRS2Go mobile app.

It indicates whether the refund has been processed, approved, or sent. The refund status can be checked online, by phone, or by mail. The IRS changes the refund status once per day, often overnight.

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Taxpayers can start checking the status of their return within 36 hours after filing an electronic return, and it is updated every 24 hours, usually overnight.

IRS Refund Status Check

Guide on how to check your IRS refund status online using “Where’s My Refund?”:

Access the “Where’s My Refund?” Tool:

  • Visit the official IRS website:
  • Click on the blue “Check on a Refund” button under the “Where’s My Refund?” section.

Enter Required Information:

  • Give your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or Social Security number.
  • Choose your filing status (jointly, single, married, etc.).
  • Enter the exact amount of your return in whole dollars, without any cents or decimals.

Submit and View Results:

  • Click the “Submit” button.
  • The tool will display the current status of your refund, along with a progress bar and any estimated dates available.

IRS Refund Status

Interpreting Your IRS Refund Status

The IRS refund status can have several meanings:

  • Return Received”: The IRS has your return and is processing it.
  • “Refund Approved”: Your refund has been approved and is on its way. The “Estimated Deposit Date” displayed indicates when to expect it.
  • “Refund Sent”: Your refund has been sent to your bank account or mailed as a check. Track it online or check with your bank for arriva.

IRS Refund Timeline

E-filing vs. Mailing:

The speed of your refund journey largely depends on your chosen method:


  • The fastest in speed, e-filed returns typically reach the IRS within minutes and can be processed much faster. If everything’s in order, expect your refund within:
    • 3 weeks: Most refunds arrive within this timeframe, with direct deposits hitting your account faster than physical checks.
    • Less than 2 weeks: For some taxpayers, particularly those whose returns are straightforward, the refund can dance into their account in as little as 10 days.

Paper Returns: 

  • The traditional route takes more time, with mailed returns requiring weeks for the IRS to receive and process:
    • 6-8 weeks: This is the standard timeframe for paper returns, with checks arriving in your mailbox after processing is complete.

Beyond your chosen method, several other factors can influence the timeline:

  • Complexity of your return: Simpler returns with fewer forms and credits tend to move through the system faster.
  • Claiming Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit: These credits trigger additional IRS verification, potentially extending the processing time by up to 16 weeks.
  • Amended returns: Filing an amended return to correct mistakes or claim additional credits also lengthens the wait, with additional processing taking around 6-8 weeks.

What are the common reasons for IRS Refund Delays?

Even though the IRS strives to process returns and issue refunds as quickly as possible, there are several reasons why your refund might be delayed. The following are a few of the most prominent causes:

  • Errors or incomplete information on your return: This is the most frequent cause of delays. Make sure you’ve double-checked everything for accuracy.
  • Filing a paper return: E-filing is much faster and more efficient than filing by mail. Paper returns take longer to process because they have to be manually entered into the IRS system.
  • Claiming certain tax credits: Tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit can trigger additional scrutiny from the IRS, which can delay your refund.
  • Being selected for an audit: If your return is randomly selected for an audit, your refund will be held up until the audit is completed. 
  • Owing outstanding debts: If you owe money to the government, like back taxes or student loans, the IRS may offset your refund to pay off those debts.
  • Identity theft or fraud: If the IRS suspects that your return may be fraudulent, they will put a hold on your refund while they investigate.
  • Filing late: While the filing deadline is usually April 15th, if you file your return late, it will naturally take longer to process and you may receive your refund later.

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4 thoughts on “IRS Refund Status – Tax Return Timeline for on-Paper and e-File”

  1. That’s bull I haven’t recd my 2022 tax refund and it’s been over 10 months because someone used my ss# and have been under review for 10 months 🙃 ever when I have spoken to representative to identify myself.

  2. I agree bs.
    They knew who I was when they was taking taxes all year… now when I was to get a refund 1 wk ago not even close to what they hav taken I hav to wait another 7 weeks so they can verify my identity


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