Federal Tax Refund Status

Waiting for a refund? Wondering when and how can you check your federal tax refund status?


The IRS has several methods you can use to track your income tax refund status but it is only available about 24 hours after your return was accepted.

If you e-filed, your tax return will get accepted within hours after your return was filed. But if you filed by mailing in your paper tax return it might take a few weeks until your tax return is accepted and the refund information is available.

The three ways to check on your federal tax refund status:

  • Internet The IRS has an internet tool called "Where's My Refund?" where you can easily check your refund status on your computer anytime.
  • PhoneTo check when you'll get your refund by phone call 800-TAX-1954 (800-829-1954); a 24 hour automated hotline.
  • Smart phone The latest is this smart phone application IRS2GO. You can download it for free from either Apple App Store or the Android Market and check your federal income tax refund status from there.

The information you need is your social security number filing status and refund amount. All three can be found on the copy of your tax return so it be most convenient to have it with you when you're checking your refund status.

How long is this information available?

For returns filed before July 1 the federal income tax status is available through the 2nd or 3rd week of December of that year.

Tax returns filed after July 1 and those that the checks were returned as undeliverable will have the federal tax refund status information available throughout the following year or until you file the next tax return.

What information is not available

  • Business returns
  • Some prior year returns see above

You can now check the status of your amended return, too.



Federal Tax Refund Status Results

New for 2013!

The IRS has a new and improved system for "Where's My Refund?" tool starting in 2013 for 2012 tax returns.

The new system will minimize the confusion of when the refund will be received, by not showing any estimate dates. The only date it will show is the actual refund date that will get set once the refund is approved.

However the information will be posted immediately, so you can start checking your refund status as soon as your return is accepted. (Please note: it might take some time from when your return was filed until it get accepted so wait a few hours after filing before you start checking your refund status.)

The new look will include the refund status bar as you can see below:

Each part of the bar will get lighted (orange) as you move along the refund process.

Return Received

Nothing can happen if your return is not received by the IRS. So except for making sure you get an acknowledgement, you can check here if the IRS has received your return.

    But remember: It can take up to 24 hours after you receive your acknowledgement for Return Received to show here. So be patient and don't check (or at least don't worry) until 24 hours have passed.

Also there will be no estimated dates as to when the refund will be sent because until the refund is approved nobody can know when it will be sent. Posting an estimated date creates a lot of confusion and panic if the refund is sent on a different day as we have seen last year.

Refund Approved

Once your tax return has been processed and there were no errors, your refund gets approved. This means that the IRS agrees that your tax return is correct and they will issue you your refund.

When your refund is approved the IRS will assign a refund date. This date is an accurate date and you can expect to get your refund that day. (No guarantees, though.)

    The IRS will update the federal tax refund status daily, usually at night. This means that every day there could be news that your refund is available. A good idea (if you are anxious to see when your refund will arrive) is to check once every morning but not more than that.

Refund Sent

As soon as your refund date passes the last part of refund tracker will light up to indicate that your refund has been sent!

If you asked for a direct deposit, check your bank to see if your refund has been deposited (sometimes it can take a few days until the bank puts it into your account).

Otherwise check your mailbox in about three days for your refund check.

    Even if the IRS sent you the money, it is still possible that some or all of your refund can be used by the Treasury Offset Program to pay for past-due child support, certain federal agency non-tax debts, state income tax, or unemployment compensation debts. If this happens you will be notified my mail with a notice that will state the original refund amount and the offset amount.

What happens if you do not get your refund at the time that the IRS states on the income tax refund status results?

Check to see what you need to do if your refund is lost.

Updated January 6, 2014


› Refund Status


Here is the old "Where's my Refund?" guidelines for those checking on 2011 return filed after July 1, 2012.

Here are some federal tax refund status results that you might get and what it means:

You may not have entered your information correctly. Please verify your personal tax data and try again.

This can mean either that you made a mistake when entering your information or you filed your return very recently and the IRS does not have your information in their system yet.

Your return has been received and is being processed

The IRS has your return but they did not schedule a time when to give you your refund. You will get an approximate date when you will get your refund however this will not necessarily be the correct date.

Just wait until the next Sunday when the IRS schedules the payments for that week and check again. Most likely you will the following results:

Your tax refund will be direct deposited on . . .

or

Your tax refund check will be mailed on . . .

If you get one of these results as your federal tax refund status it means that the IRS is sending you the money.



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