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When to expect a tax refund and how to speed it up

Tax refunds are often one of the biggest surprises of the year for many Americans, so it's important to know how to get one. Edition Yahoo! explained when to expect a return.

Photo: Shutterstock

“We've developed a tax refund spreadsheet over the past 20 years to help taxpayers get a sense of when they can get their money,” said Isaac O'Bannon, managing editor of CPA Practice Advisor, a technical resource for accountants. "The chart is based on historical trends and IRS policies, but taxpayers should be aware that some issues may affect their individual refunds, including the specific credits and deductions they claim."

According to the Internal Revenue Service, most refunds must be received within 21 days of filing your tax return, unless your return requires additional verification. But if you've applied for an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Supplemental Child Tax Credit (ACTC), the IRS by law can't issue you a refund until mid-February.

In addition, returns may take longer during the high tax filing season, which begins at the end of March. Therefore, it is a good idea to file your tax return electronically as soon as you have all the required documents.

On the subject: Ten tax credits and deductions that can save you up to $47

According to CPA Practice Advisor, the start of accepting electronic tax returns began on January 24th.

Receipt of a refund depends on when you filed an electronic declaration and how the refund will be sent to you.

Date of submission of the electronic declarationDate of receipt of direct deposit refundDate of receipt of return by check in the mail
24 January31 JanuaryFebruary 11
31 JanuaryFebruary 11February 18
February 7February 18March 25
February 14February 25March 4
February 21March 4March 11
February 28March 11March 18
March 7March 18March 25
March 14March 252 April
March 211 April9 April
March 288 April15 April
4 April15 April22 April
11 April22 April29 April
18 April29 April6 May
25 April6 May13 May
2 May13 May20 May
9 May20 May 27 May
16 May27 May4 June
23 May4 June11 June

The IRS took more than 21 days to issue refunds on some 2020 tax returns that required review, including those that reported incorrect refund amounts or that used 2019 income to determine EITC or ACTC amounts.

In general, the fastest way to get a refund is to apply electronically and opt for direct deposit.

Taxpayers submitting a paper version of their return can expect 3-4 weeks to begin the process as the return must be manually entered into the IRS system before it can be processed.

How to track your tax refund

When you file your tax return, you can track your tax refund using the service Where's my refund? online or in the free mobile app IRS2Go.

You are entitled to receive refund information 24 hours after the IRS receives your electronically filed tax return or four weeks after you mail your paper tax return. The service is updated once a day, usually at night.

It will show when the IRS received your tax return, when it approved your return, and when it sent it. It will also include the date your return is due.

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To use the tracker, you must provide the following information:

  • social security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN);
  • submission status;
  • exact refund amount.

If you chose the direct deposit option for a refund, please wait five days after the IRS sends the refund to verify it with the bank.

If you requested a direct deposit, the IRS may still send a paper check if:

  • the bank account you requested for direct deposit is not in your name, your spouse's name, or a joint account;
  • your bank rejected a direct deposit;
  • the bank account is being used for too many electronic returns.

The IRS can only post a maximum of three electronic tax refunds per account.

Why is the tax refund delayed?

A tax refund may be delayed for several reasons. These include:

  • return is incomplete;
  • the return needs further consideration;
  • your return was affected by identity theft or fraud;
  • your return claims an earned income tax credit or additional tax credit for children;

Your return includes Form 8379, which can take up to 14 weeks to process.

You should call the IRS if more than 21 days have passed since you filed your electronic tax return, or if Where's My Refund? tells you to contact the department.

Why is the refund greater or less than the amount calculated on the tax return

Some or all of the refund may be offset by federal tax arrears, state income taxes, state unemployment debt, alimony, spousal support, or other federal non-tax debts such as student loans.

The IRA may also have changed the amount based on changes made to your tax return, including corrections to an erroneous refund amount. If so, the agency will send a notice explaining the corrections and Where's My Refund? will show the reasons for the difference in refund amounts.

Your refund may be less than expected because you received advance monthly payments on your child tax credit from July to December last year. Other key tax changes this year may also affect your return.

Read also on ForumDaily:

The top five shortcomings of Americans and how immigrants can learn to live with them

Ten tax credits and deductions that can save you up to $47

Change of residence and taxes in the USA: how to avoid an audit if you moved to Florida

California already has high taxes, but the state authorities want to almost double them

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