Locating a Refund

If you filed a tax return and are expecting a refund from the IRS, you may want to find out the status of the refund, or at least get an idea of when you might receive it. The IRS issues most refunds in 21 calendar days.  You can check the status of your refund with the “Where’s My Refund” tool or the IRS2Go mobile app.

The PATH Act made the following changes, which became effective for the 2016 filing season, to help prevent revenue loss due to identity theft and refund fraud related to fabricated wages and withholdings:

  • The IRS may not issue a credit or refund to a taxpayer before February 15th, if the taxpayer claims the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on their return.
  • This change only affects returns claiming EITC or ACTC that are filed before February 15.
  • The IRS will hold the entire refund, including any part of the refund that isn't associated with the EITC or ACTC.
  • Neither TAS, nor the IRS, can release any part of the refund before that date, even if you are experiencing a financial hardship.

When can I check on my refund?

  • Did you file your tax return electronically? Within 24 hours after the IRS receives your return.
  • Did you file a paper return? Four weeks after mailing your return.
  • Did you file an amended return? Refund information won’t be available online, whether you filed electronically or on paper. Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 (TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059.) You can, however, check the general status of your amended return with Where's My Amended Return? on IRS.gov. It should generally be available three weeks after you mail the amended return.

When checking on your refund, have this information available:

  • Your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or your spouse’s SSN or ITIN if filing a joint return.
  • Your filing status (single, head of household, married filing joint, or married filing separate).
  • The exact refund amount shown on the return.
  • If you chose to get your refund by direct deposit or paper check.
    • If you selected direct deposit, did you ask the IRS to divide it among multiple accounts?

Was the refund a Refund Anticipation Check or Refund Anticipation Loan? Contact your tax return preparer. 

If you didn’t receive your refund or didn’t get the amount you expected, there are several possible reasons why

There are steps you can take to determine which of the above reasons is most likely — the I don't have my refund common situation will take you through the possibilities.

If there’s not enough information to verify your identity and filing history for the year in question, the IRS won’t be able to help you locate the refund.

Have a different tax issue?  Browse common issues and situations at Get Help.

Is your tax problem more complex?  If your issue is causing you financial hardship, you have tried repeatedly and aren't receiving a response from the IRS, or you feel your taxpayer rights are being violated, consider contacting Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).

Do you feel that you need help from a tax professional but can’t afford one? You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), or enrolled agent associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

Last modified November 17, 2017