How Long Will Getting Your Tax Refund Take?

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • Many Americans receive generous tax refunds.
  • Getting this money ASAP can allow you to use it for important financial goals.
  • Most tax refunds are issued within 21 days, but can take around six weeks, depending on several factors.

If you're waiting for your tax refund, here's what you need to know.

The average American receives a generous tax refund each year when they submit their tax returns. If you are one of the many people who is expecting to get thousands of dollars back from the IRS, chances are good you're eager to get your hands on that money.

As a result, you may be wondering just how long getting your tax refund is likely to take after you have submitted your forms to the IRS.

Here's what you need to know about tax refund timelines

According to the IRS, most tax refunds are issued by the agency in 21 days or less. However, in order for you to get back your money so fast, you need to do two things:

  • You need to submit your tax forms electronically. It takes much longer for the IRS to receive and process paper returns than it does for the agency to handle returns that are electronically filed. The good news is, e-filing is easier, especially if you make use of the best tax software to help you get your return completed correctly. Not only that, but it is often free to use software programs to electronically file your taxes, although your ability to submit a return at no cost depends on your income and which program you use.
  • You need to request direct deposit. The IRS can deposit money right into your bank account more quickly than it can mail you a check. Direct deposit is free and secure, so you don't have to worry about giving the IRS your bank details.

If you submit a paper return, you can expect to get your money back much more slowly. In fact, the IRS indicates it could take around six weeks for you to get back your overpaid tax money if you submit your forms via standard mail rather than sending them in electronically.

What could slow down your refund?

While most refunds come quickly, there are certain things that can result in a delay. It could take longer for your money to come if:

  • There are mistakes on your tax return
  • Your tax return isn't complete when you submit it
  • Identity theft or fraud become possible issues
  • You claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • You claimed an Additional Child Tax Credit

If you claimed either the EITC or the ACTC, the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act prohibits the IRS from issuing the refund prior to mid-February. As a result, even if you get your tax forms in ealy, file them electronically, and provide your bank information for direct deposit, you may not be able to get your funds from the IRS until late February or even early March.

Anyone who is not sure where their refund is, or when to expect it, can use the IRSWhere’s My Refund? Tool. You will need basic details, including your Social Security number or taxpayer ID, and the amount of your refund in order to access your data. This site updates only once per day, so once you've checked it, you'll need to wait until the next day to get any new info.

Knowing when you can expect your refund can help with your financial planning, so make sure you consider your filing method and the possible causes of delay when anticipating when your money will come in.

Alert: highest cash back card we've seen now has 0% intro APR until nearly 2025

If you're using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our experts love this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR for 15 months, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. 

In fact, this card is so good that our experts even use it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes. 

Read our free review

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow