Tens of millions of Americans will get tax refunds when they file their 2019 tax returns, and given that the average one was over $2,800 last year, it's understandable why people might want to get their money as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, you can't simply file your tax return in early 2020 and expect the IRS to pay you right away.
When will the IRS start processing tax returns in 2020?
Technically, you can file your 2019 tax return as soon as you're ready. If you have all of your relevant documents and have filled out your return, there's no reason you can't submit it to the IRS. Most electronic tax software programs allow taxpayers to prepare their returns as soon as the calendar year ends.
That said, the IRS doesn't start processing tax returns until a specified date each year, and for the 2019 tax year, that date is Jan. 27, 2020. That will be the official start of tax season.
If you owe the IRS money, it's worth noting that you have until the April 15 tax deadline to pay your balance even if you file your return earlier. Submitting your tax return early in the season can be an effective way to prevent tax-related identity theft (the IRS only accepts one return per Social Security number), so don't let the fact that you owe taxes stop you from filing as early as reasonably possible.
When will tax refunds start in 2020?
Once the IRS has accepted your tax return, you'll most likely receive your tax refund within 21 days if you e-file. More than 90% of tax refunds in recent years have been issued within that time period. If you are among the 8% of Americans who still file a paper tax return, it could take considerably longer.
So, if you e-file your tax return and the IRS accepts it on the first possible date, you can expect to receive your refund by Feb. 17, although you could certainly get it significantly earlier. In practice, the IRS typically issues tax refunds once a week (on Fridays), so your most likely direct deposit date would be Feb. 14. Of course, if you choose to receive your refund by paper check, you aren't likely to get it quite so fast.
Finally, if you claim either the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on your return, your refund could potentially be delayed. The IRS is required to hold all refunds that claim these credits until at least Feb. 15.
How to check your tax refund status
If you're wondering how much longer you'll be waiting, you can check the status of your refund on the IRS website. Specifically, you should be able to see the status of your tax return 24 hours after you e-file or four weeks after you mail a paper tax return. An exact refund date will be listed as soon as the IRS processes your return and approves your refund. So if you want to know exactly when you can expect your tax refund to show up in your bank account in 2020, that's the best place to locate the information.