The average American gets a hefty annual tax refund, often totaling thousands of dollars. If you're waiting for your money from the IRS, you're probably wondering how quickly your refund will come, and how you can track its progress. 

Here's how to find out where your tax refund is in the process, and to make sure you get your money ASAP. 

IRS building with red light in front of it.

Image source: Getty Images.

When will your tax refund come?

While you may want your refund as quickly as possible, it takes the IRS some time to process returns and send out your money. The exact timeframe depends upon how you file your tax forms, as well as what credits you claim.  In general, here's what you can expect:

  • If you e-file your tax return and request your refund via direct deposit, you should have it within 21 days in most circumstances. 
  • If you claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit, your refund will be delayed. Under the law, the earliest the IRS can issue refunds for those claiming this credit is February 15. However, the tax filing season is starting later in 2021, so they'll begin distributing refunds the first week in March for those claiming the EITC. You can expect your money then if you e-filed your return, you intend to receive your money via direct deposit, and there are no problems with your documents.  
  • If you submit your returns via paper filing, it will take around six weeks for you to receive your refund. 

If you want to receive your refund as soon as possible, you should file your taxes as soon as you can. Normally, the IRS begins accepting tax returns at the end of January. This year, the agency is opening filing season on February 12, so you'll have to wait a little longer. Just remember, though, that while the IRS won't start accepting your forms until a little later, you still must get your return in by the April 15 deadline.

Where's my tax refund? Here's how to track it

If you're eager to get your money and want to make sure you can track exactly where your refund is, the IRS provides you with two options to do that. 

If you're using your computer, you can visit to check the status of your refund. If you are using a mobile device, you can download the IRS2Go app. You can start using the tool to track your refund within 24 hours of the time you e-filed (it takes longer to get into the system if you sent in your forms by mail). 

And regardless of how you submitted your paperwork or which tool you use to check your refund status, you'll need a few pieces of information to track your money, including:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your tax filing status
  • The exact amount of your refund

You can get this information from the tax forms you filed.

The IRS updates the mobile and web tools daily so you can track the progress of your refund throughout the process and know exactly when your money is scheduled to come.