There’s nothing like the joy of filing your tax return and finding out the IRS owes you money this year. But the next question on your mind is likely,
“When am I going to get my tax refund back?”
The truth is the answer depends on a range of factors. No two taxpayers can expect to receive their tax refunds at the same time.
Table of Contents
- 1 When Do I Need to Submit My Tax Return?
- 2 Tax Penalties for Late Filing
- 3 So, When Will I Receive My Tax Refund?
- 4 Exceptions to the Refund Timetable
- 5 What is the IRS’ Refund Schedule?
- 6 How to Track Your Tax Refund
- 7 How to Track Your State Tax Refund
- 8 Common Tax Refund Questions
- 9 How to File Taxes Online in 3 Simple Steps With TurboTax
When Do I Need to Submit My Tax Return?
The IRS will begin accepting tax returns sometime in mid to late January. If there are holidays in your state, as there are in Massachusetts and Maine, you’ll be able to submit tax returns on the next available business day. The IRS recommends filing taxes online to get your tax refund back as soon as possible.
You should remember that filing for an extension only gives you more time to file, not more time to pay any taxes you owe. If you choose to file for an extension, you’ll still need to pay by the tax deadline. Otherwise, you could receive a penalty.
Tax Penalties for Late Filing
You’ll be charged 5% of your unpaid tax bill for every month that your tax return is late. This will rise until it reaches 25% of your unpaid taxes.
But if you file and you haven’t paid yet, you’ll owe less as long as you deal with the error as soon as possible.
For each month you fail to pay, you’ll receive a penalty of 0.05% of your unpaid taxes. This can rise to a maximum of 25%.
Take note that interest rates equal to the short-term Federal interest rate will be charged on your unpaid tax bill. An additional 3% will be added on top of this.
Taxpayers who decide to file for a tax extension anyway will need to make sure they file by October 15th.
So, When Will I Receive My Tax Refund?
The IRS is looking to speed up the time it takes to process refunds. The IRS aims to provide nearly all taxpayers with their refunds within 21 days of receiving their tax returns.
The IRS also has a way that you can track the status of your refund. Just go to the IRS website and look for the “Where’s My Refund?” page. Here you can enter your tax information and receive an update on where your refund is.
This facility is also available through the IRS2GO app on your mobile device.
Updates are made daily, according to the IRS. You’ll be able to begin tracking your refund 24 hours after using an e-filing service and four weeks after mailing a paper return.
The fastest way to receive your tax refund is to make sure you use an e-filing service and opting for direct deposit as your payment method of choice.
Exceptions to the Refund Timetable
There are exceptions to the refund timetable, however.
The first major exception is due to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act. PATH means that if you’re claiming either the Additional Child Tax Credit or the Earned Income Tax Credit, expect the IRS to withhold your refund until February 15th.
The PATH act means your entire refund will be delayed, rather than just the amounts pertaining to these two credits. Taxpayers in this situation shouldn’t expect to receive their refund until the following week.
What is the IRS’ Refund Schedule?
The IRS used to publish guidance on when taxpayers would receive their refunds. However, in recent years, they have decided to stop publishing this guidance. The only way to find out when the IRS will begin processing refunds is by looking at the trends from previous years.
For example, if you submitted your tax return on January 28th and opted for direct deposit, you would receive your refund by February 15th, as long as the PATH act doesn’t apply to your tax return.
If you submitted your tax return on March 1st, you would receive your deposit around March 15th.
Finally, if you submitted your tax return by April 28th, you would receive your refund on May 17th. Paper checks will take longer to arrive.
How to Track Your Tax Refund
As we mentioned before, the IRS makes it easy for you to track the status of your refund.
You’ll need to provide your filing status, Social Security number, and the precise amount you’re expected to be refunded in order to access the service.
How to Track Your State Tax Refund
It’s common for state refunds to be refunded to taxpayers before Federal refunds. Timings do vary based on the state you live in, though.
To start the process, you’ll need to file your Federal tax return, but you don’t need to wait for your Federal refund before you receive your state refund.
Take note, you can disregard this if you live in a state like Alaska or Texas as they don’t have any state income taxes.
Common Tax Refund Questions
What are the current deadlines?
All tax returns must be filed by April 15th, except in the states of Maine and Massachusetts. For taxpayers in these states, the tax filing deadline is April 17th.
If you decide to file for a tax extension, you’ll have until October 15th to file your taxes. But you need to pay an estimated tax bill in order to avoid penalties.
Why is my tax refund delayed?
Your tax refund may be delayed if you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. Due to the provisions of the PATH act, taxpayers who claim these credits will need to wait until at least February 15th to receive their refunds.
Your tax refund may also be delayed if you entered any incorrect information on your tax return, such as misspelling your name or entering the wrong Social Security number. Math errors are another common reason why refunds may be delayed.
How can I get my refund faster?
The quickest way to get your tax refund is to file your taxes the moment the IRS begins accepting tax returns and choosing direct deposit as your payment method of choice. Make sure you file using the e-filing method, as opposed to filing a paper return.
How long do refunds take when using the e-filing service?
The IRS attempts to process the majority of tax refunds within 21 days of receiving a taxpayer’s return.
How can I track the status of my tax refund?
Use the “Where’s My Refund?” facility on the IRS website or the IRS2GO app on your mobile device.
What’s the best way to spend your tax refund?
It may be tempting to spend your tax refund on a new car or a vacation but stop for a moment. Making smart financial decisions could benefit you in the long-term.
Paying down your debts and building an emergency savings fund could be the best way to prepare you and your family for whatever the world might throw at you.