What Day and Time Does the IRS Deposit Refunds?


According to the IRS, more than 9 out of 10 taxpayers will receive their tax refunds in 21 days or less.

However, when someone owes you money, you want to know exactly when it’s going to hit your pocket–even if that someone is the government. In today’s article, I’ll tell you how to figure out what day and time the IRS will deposit your refund.

How can I get my tax refund faster?

How long it takes to get your refund depends on how you file and how you elect to receive your refund. Your options for filing are either to file on paper through snail mail or to e-file; the latter is how I file for all of my clients. As far as refunds go, you can actually choose to receive your refund in many different ways, but the three most common are: deposited directly into a checking and/or savings account (up to 3 accounts total), paper check mailed to you, or loaded onto a prepaid debit card.

So what’s the quickest way to get your refund? If you e-file your taxes and use direct deposit to receive your refund, that’s the best combination to ensure that you’ll receive your refund as quickly as possible.

When does the IRS deposit refunds?

The IRS used to publish a timetable letting taxpayers know when they could expect their refunds to be deposited or mailed, but they don’t do that anymore. Based on past timetables and under normal processing conditions, if you e-file and elect to have your refund directly deposited, you can expect to see the money in your account within three weeks of the IRS receiving it.

If you don’t e-file, it will take about six weeks after the IRS receives your tax return for you to see the money. That’s the time it will take no matter if you elect to have your refund directly deposited or if you request a paper check in the mail.

Refunds are now dispersed by the IRS on just about every business day, and you can use the IRS’ Where’s My Refund? tool to see exactly when you’ll receive yours! You can access the tool through the website, or you can download the IRS2Go app on your iPhone or Android device and check your Where’s My Refund? status through the app.

To access your information with the IRS tool, you’ll need your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, your filing status, and your exact refund amount, so make sure you have your tax return handy. You can access your information as quickly as 24 hours after e-filing for the previous tax year and as quickly as 3 or 4 days after e-filing for 1 or 2 tax years prior to the previous one. If you mailed in your tax return, it can take up to 4 weeks to be able to access your information through this tool.

The Where’s My Refund? tool will first tell you which of the 3 stages your refund is in: return received, refund approved, or refund sent. Once you’ve reached the third stage, the site will give you an exact date for when you can expect your refund to be sent. The tool updates every day, usually at night, so you can check back each day to see where you are in the process.

Just remember that once your refund is sent, it could still take some time before you actually see it. If you requested a direct deposit, it may take up to 5 days for your bank to process the funds. And if you requested a paper check, it could take several weeks before you get that check in your mailbox.

Can I do anything to speed up my refund?

After you’ve already submitted your tax return, there’s not really anything you can do to speed up the process of getting your refund. There’s an old CPAs’ tale that calling the IRS will prompt them to move your return through more quickly, but that’s not true. In fact, the Where’s My Refund? tool will often provide you with more up-to-date and personalized information than you’ll be able to get over the phone. However, if you want to talk to a real person at the IRS, let me tell you how.

So long story short, using the IRS’ free Where’s My Refund? tool is the best way to determine what day you’ll likely see your money. As for the time of day, that’s largely dependent upon your bank’s or mail person’s schedule. The good news is that you’ll be getting a refund soon! Now it’s time to start thinking about the best way to spend (or save!) that moolah.

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Amy Northard, CPA

Amy Northard, CPA

Founder of The Accountant for Creatives®
+ taxes + bookkeeping + consulting
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