2022 Tax Refunds: When Will I Get My Tax Refund?

Updated Nov. 29, 2022
Jack Caporal
By: Jack Caporal

Our Research Expert

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Image source: Getty Images

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Filing taxes isn't anyone's idea of a good time, but a tax refund is a light at the end of the tunnel. Considering the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) refunded $293 billion in income tax in 2021, plenty of filers get a sizable return.

How long does it take to receive your tax refund? What's the average tax refund amount? And do certain characteristics, such as income or marital status, influence tax refund amounts?

To find out, we analyzed the most recent IRS data on tax refunds. In the sections that follow, you'll learn exactly which filers get the biggest refunds.

Key findings

  • Average tax return: The average tax refund in 2022 was $3,039. That's up 7.5% from 2021, when the average tax return was $2,827.
  • When will I get my tax refund: Nine out of 10 tax refunds are issued in less than 21 days, according to the IRS. Most states estimate that state tax refunds are issued within 10 weeks.

Numbers on tax refunds by income, age, and filing status are available only through 2020.

  • Tax refunds by income: Average tax returns tend to rise with income. The average tax refund in 2020 for someone making between $50,000 and $75,000 was $1,992. The average tax return for someone making $200,000 or more was $4,334.
  • Tax returns by age: Tax refund amounts peak for adults in the 35-to-44 age range, and then steadily decline going forward.
  • Tax refunds by filing status: Heads of household had the highest average tax return in 2020, receiving back $5,086. Single filers received the smallest tax refund ($1,196). Married couples averaged a refund of $2,992.

How long it takes to get your tax refund

Nine out of 10 tax refunds are issued within 21 days, according to the IRS.

Twenty-four hours after filing your refund online, you can access the IRS Where's My Refund tool to get daily updates on your tax refund status. Paper filers have to wait six months or more before the tool becomes available.

The tool shows progress in three phases:

  1. Return received
  2. Refund approved
  3. Refund sent

Once your refund is approved, you will be given a date to expect your refund on by the IRS.

Those who file their tax return online and sign up for direct deposit get their tax refund fastest, per the IRS.

Most states estimate that state tax refunds are issued within 10 weeks of processing.

Average tax refund in 2022: $3,039

The average individual income tax refund was $3,039 for the 2021 tax-filing year, a 7.5% increase from 2020 when the average refund was $2,827.

For many consumers, tax refunds are a significant influx of extra cash they get each year. Because of that, it's common for people to plan their finances around their refunds.

Our study on Christmas spending showed that many people plan to use their refunds to pay off their Christmas debt. Some others put their funds in the bank to boost their savings. And there are those who earmark their upcoming tax refunds for big purchases, such as a TV or a down payment on a car.

What to expect from your tax refund in 2023

Changes are coming for the 2022 tax-filing year that could impact the size of tax refunds in 2023.

"The news for this tax season surrounds the tax credits and deductions that were not extended into 2022," said Mark Jaeger, vice president of tax development at TaxAct. Legislation passed in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis expanded some tax credits in a bid to provide economic relief for Americans. Many of those changes are expiring for the 2022 tax-filing year.

These are the tax credits and changes that filers should be most aware of, according to experts The Ascent spoke to.

Child Tax Credit

Almost all parents with children under 17 are eligible for the Child Tax Credit, although benefits lower as income increases. The Child Tax Credit is set to be reduced to $2,000 per child for the 2022 filing year after the value of the credit was increased for the 2021 filing year as part of the American Rescue Plan. Advanced monthly payments are no longer available and the credit will not be fully refundable this upcoming season.

Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit, which can be taken by low- and medium-income workers, will be restricted to filers between the ages of 25 and 65 unless those filers have dependents, and the maximum credit for filers with no children will lower to $560. The Earned Income Tax Credit is one of the most overlooked tax credits, according to Lisa Greene-Lewis, CPA and tax expert at TurboTax. She explained that 1 out of 5 people fail to take advantage of it, according to the IRS.

Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

Tax filers who pay someone to look after a child under 13 or another dependent who cannot take care of themselves will see a reduced Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit in the 2022 filing year. The American Rescue Plan Act boosted the credit to up to $4,000 for one qualifying person and $8,000 for two or more qualifying persons. For the 2022 filing year, the credit will decrease significantly to a maximum credit of $1,050 for one qualifying person and $2,100 for two or more.

Charitable contributions

Filers for the 2021 tax year could claim a $300 (or $600 if married and filing jointly) charitable deduction as part of the standard deduction. For the 2022 filing season, only those who claim itemized deductions will be eligible for the charitable deduction.

How to get the the largest tax refund in 2023

While it's not possible to predict how the average refund will change in the 2022 filing year, we asked experts at major tax service providers about how to maximize tax refunds and what changes to watch out for. One common among the experts we talked to: parents are likely to see a smaller refund.

According to Kathy Pickering, chief tax officer at H&R Block, "It is safe to say the refunds will likely be smaller for taxpayers who claimed the Child Tax Credit and EIC in 2021. Now that these expanded credits have been reduced to their pre-COVID levels, refunds should be smaller."

1. Be aware of life change that impact credits and deductions

Changes to tax credits aren't the only thing filers should be mindful of this coming tax season -- they should also be cognizant of their own life changes.

"My biggest piece of advice is to be aware of possibilities for new-to-you credits or deductions based on life changes or if you received them in years past -- changes and different amounts could be big on your 2022 tax return," said Mark Steber, chief tax information officer at Jackson Hewitt.

2. Organize W-2s and other paperwork

To maximize tax refunds and avoid delays or letters from the IRS, filers should make sure they have all their paperwork in order, including their W-2s and 1099s.

"Personal situations can change annually, but if someone isn't organized these changes can go overlooked. I always recommend people organize; and stay organized throughout the year. Organize tax-related documents into four categories: income items, deductions, life changes, and other," Steber added.

3. Double check information entered into tax software

Many tax-filing services transpose information from tax forms to calculate your return, but you should still double check to make sure that the information received by the service matches what's on your forms.

"One of the most common mistakes is not taking a moment to review the information you entered," Mark Jaeger, vice president of tax development at TaxAct said.

Missing information or entering it incorrectly either through being rushed or disorganized can mean leaving benefits on the table. In that instance, the IRS won't catch your mistake. "It is simply a mistaken concept that if you leave off a benefit the IRS will 'find it and add it back and send you more money.' Nothing could be farther from the truth," said Steber.

Steber pointed out that there's a growing trend of taxpayers making small but costly mistakes on their filings. "These mistakes have resulted in thousands of taxpayers seeing a delay in receiving their tax refund because their return is sent to the IRS' error resolution system," he said.

4. Make a plan to file a tax return

The biggest misstep? Not filing a tax return at all, said Lisa Greene-Lewis, CPA and tax expert at TurboTax.

"The IRS reports over a billion dollars in unclaimed refunds every year because people don't make the IRS income threshold requirement to file ($12,950 single, $25,900 married filing jointly), but if you had federal taxes withheld and can claim some refundable credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit you may have a refund waiting," Greene-Lewis said.

Average tax refund by income

There's a clear correlation between income and tax refund amounts. Filers who have higher incomes get more back. This average tax return by income chart will give you the details:

A column chart showing the average tax refund by income.

Americans who earn $200,000 and over experience a much higher tax return than those who earn less because high earners generally have more cash withheld from their income over the course of the year.

For a more detailed look at the average tax refund across income levels, see the table below.

A table showing the average tax refund by income level.

A more detailed breakdown reveals that tax refund amounts and incomes are related but anomalies exist.

Filers with no adjusted gross income (AGI) posted an average tax refund of $2,132, which is more than or close to the average returns for most income bands up to those who earn $200,00 or more. Filers with no AGI or negative AGI aren't necessarily earning no income. It's more likely that they're taking advantage of tax deductions.

Another departure -- Americans that made $15,000 to $19,999 had a higher average refund than every subsequent group up to those making $200,000 or more. This isn't a one-year quirk. Earners in the $15,000 to $19,999 band had a higher average tax return than every group up to those making $50,000 to $75,000 every tax year dating back to 2012. Even in years prior to 2012, those making between $15,000 and $24,999 tended to have higher or similar refund amounts to those making up to $74,999.

Average tax refund by filing status

Filing status makes a significant difference in the amount of taxes you pay and how much you can receive in your refund.

The difference in average returns of heads of households and single Americans or married couples filing separately is particularly large.

A column chart showing the average tax refund by filing status.

Heads of household received the largest refunds for the 2019 tax year, receiving $5,086 on average.

The average tax refund for single Americans was just $1,196. Married taxpayers filing separately received an average return of slightly more, $1,334.

Married Americans filing jointly and surviving spouses saw an average return of $2,992.

Heads of households -- unmarried filers who pay for at least half their household expenses and have a qualifying dependent -- receive the largest average tax returns because they benefit from the second largest standard deduction, $19,400 for 2022, and wider tax brackets than single filers and married Americans that file separately.

Married couples who file jointly and surviving spouses have the widest tax brackets and largest standard deduction ($25,900 in 2022).

While some couples consider filing separately to save on taxes, this can end up being a costly tax mistake. Except in select circumstances, filing jointly tends to provide greater savings.

Average tax refund by age

Tax refund amounts rise with age until reaching a peak with the 35-to-44 group. After that, there's a steady decrease.

A column chart showing the average tax refund by age

For the most part, this follows how incomes rise with age. Most filers under the age of 18 work part-time in entry-level positions. Since they're not earning much compared to other age ranges, they also have significantly smaller tax refunds. Those in the 18-to-25 range average more hours and higher pay, but they're still just starting out in their careers. Peak earnings generally occur anywhere from the mid-30s to the mid-50s.

Average tax refund by state

Utah residents received the largest average tax return in 2021, getting $1,783 back, while those from Oregon received the smallest average tax refund, getting just $1,543 back.

Returns were down between 15% and 20% in every state in 2021 compared to 2020, according to the IRS.

Most states estimate that state tax refunds are issued within 10 weeks.

A choropleth map showing the average tax refund by state.

If you'd rather see a state-by-state breakdown, here's a table of the average tax returns in 2021.

A table showing average tax refund by state and average state refund processing time.

FAQs: How to check your income tax refund status and more

Where is my tax refund?

Nine out of 10 tax refunds are issued within 21 days, according to the IRS.

The IRS "Where's My Refund?" tool provides information on your tax refund status. To access that information, you'll need your Social Security number, filing status, and refund amount, which can be copied from your tax return. It can take 24 hours after you file an electronic return to access a status update and up to four weeks if you file your refund on paper.

Many states offer similar tools to track state tax refunds. Most states estimate issue refunds within eight weeks.

Can I file for an extension on my taxes?

The IRS provides a six-month tax-filing extension if you need one; however you must request an extension prior to the tax deadline. The extension applies only to filing your taxes -- if you owe money, you still need to pay by the original due date regardless of an extension.

What's the best tax refund software?

Check out The Ascent's recommendations for the best tax software. We've also recommended the best free tax software. These services help taxpayers navigate the filing process and seek out deductions and credits so filers get the largest return possible.

Methodology

To calculate the average tax refund amount by income, age, and marital status, we divided the total refunded overpayment amount by the number of returns. For state averages, we divided the individual income tax refund amounts listed for each state and divided by the number of returns. All amounts were rounded to two decimal places.

Sources

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.