Tax Refund Status: How Long Does It Take to Get a Refund?

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Tax Refund Status: How Long Does It Take to Get a Refund?
Published on May 20, 2024
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With tax season comes the anticipation of receiving a federal tax refund. Perhaps you’ve been wondering, “Where is my tax refund?” or you’ve typed, “How long does it take to get a tax refund?” into your favorite search engine. Maybe you’ve spent some time trying to calculate your estimated refund using a tax refund calculator or tax refund estimator, as these helpful tools can assess the amount you may receive as well as the amount you may owe.

Did you know that submitting a return online as compared to snail mail impacts your tax refund schedule 2024? In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about your federal tax refund so you can be equipped with all the information you need to navigate tax season and your 2024 tax refund experience.

Tax refund calculator

Tax refund calculators invite you to input your information and receive a rough estimate of your federal tax refund. The IRS Tax Withholding Estimator can be useful for those curious about their federal tax refund and interested in planning ahead in terms of how they’d like to spend it.

 A tax refund calculator is also beneficial for those who must pay a sizeable tax bill (meaning that you owe more taxes to the government than you paid throughout the calendar year; if this is the case, your employer likely isn’t withholding enough taxes from your paycheck). If the tax refund estimator you use indicates that you have a tax bill to pay, then you can prepare to sign up for a payment plan on the IRS website. IRS installment plans are designed to make it easier for you to pay your tax bill.

Federal tax refund schedule 2024

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides a general timeline for tax refunds. While there’s no official tax refund calendar or tax refund schedule 2024, you can take comfort in knowing that most taxpayers receive their federal tax refund within the specific timeframe allotted per your chosen filing method. If you have filed your return online—or a tax preparer such as a CPA has filed on your behalf—and you’ve selected direct deposit, you should receive your federal tax refund within 21 business days. Filing a return online (also known as e-file) also allows you to select the option to receive a check; in this case, you’ll receive your check in the mail within 26 business days, with 5 days specified within that total to account for check delivery via USPS.

Even though it’s become increasingly popular to file a return online, some taxpayers still prefer to submit a paper return. If you have submitted your 2023 federal tax return via snail mail, you should expect a longer turnaround time for your federal tax refund. This turnaround time reflects the time it takes for the IRS to receive your paperwork, process it, ensure there are no errors, and then release your tax refund. Taxpayers who file paper returns wait up to four or more weeks for their direct deposit to appear in their bank account or for their tax refund check to arrive in the mail.

There are other ways to receive your federal tax refund beyond receiving a paper check or a direct deposit to your checking, savings, or retirement account. Some taxpayers have their refund amount loaded onto a prepaid debit card, while others use mobile payment apps that accept direct deposits. Another way to receive your refund is through U.S. Savings Bonds; electronic savings bonds can be purchased throughout the year, but according to the IRS and Treasury Direct, it’s only through federal tax returns that you can purchase Series I paper bonds. If you filled out IRS Form 8888 alongside your 2023 tax refund to purchase savings bonds using part or all of your refund, these bonds will be issued and mailed to you after the IRS processes your tax return. TreasuryDirect’s website notes, “Once your savings bonds are issued, you should get them within three weeks. If you're having a portion of your refund deposited directly into your bank account, you may receive your refund before your bonds.”

Where is my tax refund? tool

You’ve filed your 2023 taxes, and now you’re patiently waiting for your refund. “Where is my tax refund?” is a reasonable question, especially if you are planning to use your reimbursement to repay a loan, pay off a debt, or fund an important purchase.

 For your convenience, the IRS allows you to check the status of your tax return through their online Where’s My Refund? tool. To use the Where’s My Refund? tool (which is updated once a day), you need to input your Social Security or individual taxpayer ID number (ITIN), filing status, and exact refund amount on your return. Where’s My Refund? can be accessed 24 hours after the IRS receives your electronically filed tax return or four weeks after mailing a paper tax return.

 If you prefer to use your smartphone to look up the status of your return with Where’s My Refund?, download the mobile app IRS2go in the Google Play or App Store. Another way to receive an update on your federal tax refund is to call the IRS tax refund hotline at 800-829-1954. All of these methods will help you determine if your return has been accepted and approved. If it has, the status will update to “refund sent.” Should there be an issue with your return, you should contact the IRS at your earliest convenience to resolve any errors or discrepancies.

Your state tax refund: what to expect

If you’re curious about your state tax refund, you should consult your state’s refund tracker. Each state has its own. Contact your state’s Department of Revenue directly, as the state tax refund is determined by your state, not the IRS.        

Final thoughts regarding your federal tax refund

This article addressed your federal tax refund, state tax refund, and tax fund schedule 2024. We also answered the question, “How long does it take to get a tax refund?” and discussed the benefits of using a tax refund calculator, plus why filing a return online is the fastest way to receive your federal tax refund.

We hope you receive your tax refund soon. No matter how small or large the refund is, you are free to spend that money as you so desire. This gives you a chance to treat yourself, make progress on a financial goal, or even donate to a charity you admire. 


1.  IRS.  Refunds.

2.  IRS. Tax Withholding Estimator.

3.  IRS. Payment Plans.

4.  IRS. Where’s My Refund?

5. TreasuryDirect. Using Your Income Tax Refund to Buy Paper Savings Bonds.

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