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How Long Will It Take to Get Your Tax Refund?

By Christy Bieber - Feb 23, 2020 at 9:19AM

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If you're waiting for your money, here's when you can expect it to come.

The average tax refund for the 2018 tax year was $2,925, according to the IRS. Assuming you're getting a similar refund for 2019, that's a big chunk of change that could be used to repay some debts, bulk up your emergency fund, or take a vacation with your loved ones. So if you're one of the millions of Americans receiving a refund, you're likely eager to get your hands on your cash so you can start using it.  

But when exactly will you be able to get your money from the IRS? It depends on how you file your tax forms, how you request the refund, and whether or not you're claiming certain credits.

1040 form with refund check sitting on top of it.

Image source: Getty Images.

How long will it take to get your tax refund?

If you need your refund in a timely manner, e-filing and requesting direct deposit is the best way to ensure that happens. If you e-file and have the refund deposited directly into your bank account, chances are good you'll have it within 21 days after your return has been accepted. Nine out of ten refunds are sent on this timeline. 

If you mail in a paper return, you'll be waiting quite a bit longer. It takes between six and eight weeks for your refund to be processed after the IRS receives your 1040 form. 

Whether you e-file or submit a paper return, your refund may take longer if you claim either the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit. Refunds cannot be issued for taxpayers who claim these credits until mid-February, so they won't be deposited until at least early March, provided there aren't any problems with your return. 

Once you've submitted your tax forms, you can use Where's my Refund to check when your money is likely to arrive. Your status should be available within a day of the receipt of your e-filed return or a month after your paper return has been mailed. You will need to know your Social Security number, your filing status, and the amount of your projected refund in order to use this tool and get an update on the status of your funds. 

No matter when you'll get your refund, it's important to be patient and avoid making use of any services that give you an advance on your projected refund, as this can often be a very expensive way to get your money a little bit early. 

Put your tax refund to good use

When your refund finally arrives, it's a good idea to use it for something that helps you to end up in a better financial situation. Check out some suggestions on how to make the most of your refund so you can use your money wisely. And next year you may want to consider not getting a refund at all, so you can use your money throughout the year and don't have to wait for your own money to be sent back to you by the IRS.

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