2021 TAX SEASON

Tax Filing 2021: when to expect a tax return after tax filing deadline?

Tax Day has arrived and if you filed your tax return on time and overpaid the government, you’ll be wondering when you can expect your refund.

Tax Filing 2021: when to expect a tax return after tax filing deadline?
ANDREW KELLY REUTERS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been busy sending out payments on tax returns filed before Tax Day, 17 May, as well as the third round of stimulus checks. As the agency processes 2020 tax returns those who qualified for a larger stimulus check are receiving “plus-up” payments and the White House has confirmed that families with children will be seeing Advanced Child Tax Credit payments in July.

The IRS says that it usually sends out a refund within 21 days of receiving an online tax return, but this year the agency warns that it is taking longer. Those 2020 tax returns that require review due to claiming incorrect Recovery Rebate Credit amounts, or that used 2019 income to figure the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) can expect their refund to be delayed.

How check when my tax refund will arrive?

You can use IRS online tool Where’s My Refund? to follow the status of your tax refund. If you filed your return electronically the agency will begin posting updates on your refund within 24 hours after your tax return is received, but for tax returns sent by mail it may take up to four weeks after it is received before the agency can update the status of your refund.

You can also use the agency’s mobile app IRS2Go to follow the status of your return. The IRS updates the information on both applications once a day usually overnight, so you only need check once a day. The tracker displays refund status in three stages, “Return Received, Refund Approved, Refund Sent.” After the agency has processed your return and approved your refund the IRS will provide you with a personalized refund date. If you use direct deposit you may need to give your financial instituion time to process the payment. For tax refund sent as a paper check it could take several weeks.

To use Where’s My Refund, you need to provide your Social Security number, filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund.

When should I call the IRS about my refund?

The IRS recommends calling if 21 days have passed since you e-filed your tax return or "Where's My Refund" tells you to contact the IRS. Representatives can only research the status of refunds 21 days after you filed electronically and six weeks after you mailed your paper return via phone or at walk-in locations. The agency advises not to file a second tax return, the IRS will contact you by mail when, or if, the agency needs more information to process your return. Be aware that the IRS has an administrative time to process tax returns, typically 45 days from the date a taxpayer files their tax return or Tax Day, whichever is later, before the agency will owe a taxpayer interest on a refund.

Reasons you may expect a delay in receiving your tax refund:

  • Includes errors such as an incorrect Recovery Rebate Credit amount
  • Is incomplete
  • Is affected by identity theft or fraud
  • Includes a claim filed for an Earned Income Tax Credit or an Additional Child Tax Credit using 2019 income.
  • Includes a Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, which could take up to 14 weeks to process
  • Needs further review in general

For the latest information on IRS refund processing during the covid-19 pandemic, see the IRS Operations Status page. For other inquiries and frequently asked questions check the IRS website.