Where's My Tax Refund? How to Track Your Money to Your Bank Account – CNET

Nearly 52 million Americans have received their tax refunds this year. Find out when yours will arrive.
Katie Teague
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Katie is a Writer at CNET, covering all things how-to. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
Filing early and electronically with direct deposit will help expedite your tax refund.
The deadline to file your taxes or request an extension is April 18 — that’s less than three weeks away. (That’s also the final day to file your 2018 taxes or lose out on any money owed to you.) After you submit your tax return, you can begin tracking down when your money will arrive by using free tools from the IRS.
The IRS recommends filing electronically and setting up direct deposit, as it can help get your refund issued within three weeks (assuming there are no errors). Even with its unprecedented backlog, the agency says you can still expect your refund money to arrive within about 21 days of e-filing your tax return. So far, the tax agency has sent almost 52 million tax refunds to taxpayers.
We’ll tell you how to use the Where’s My Refund and IRS2Go tools to track your tax refund online, and how to check your IRS account for further details. If you’re filing a paper return, it will take longer, but you can still track your tax refund to your mailbox. For more info, learn how to create an online IRS account, how you can file your taxes for free and 10 tax changes that might change the size of your refund in 2022. This story is updated frequently.
The IRS usually issues tax refunds within three weeks, but some taxpayers could have to wait a while longer to receive their payments. If there are any errors in your tax return, the wait could be lengthy.
When an issue delays your return, its resolution « depends on how quickly and accurately you respond, and the ability of IRS staff trained and working under social distancing requirements to complete the processing of your return, »Â according to the IRS website.
The date you receive your tax refund also depends on the method you used to file your return. If you submitted a tax return by mail, the IRS says it could take six to eight weeks for your tax refund to arrive once it’s been processed.
If your tax refund goes into your bank account via direct deposit, it could take an additional five days for your bank to post the money to your account. This means if it takes the IRS the full 21 days to issue your check and your bank five days to post it, you could be waiting a total of 26 days to get your tax refund. Online services like Venmo and Cash App can deliver your tax refund a few days sooner, since there’s no waiting period for the direct deposit.
It’s important to note that tax filers taking advantage of the child tax credit and/or the earned income tax credit will need to wait a bit longer. By law, the IRS can’t issue refunds to taxpayers with those credits until Feb. 15. The IRS told early filers with those credits to expect a tax refund on March 1.
There are several things that could be tacked on to your tax refund this year. As usual, if you overpaid your taxes in 2021, you’ll receive that money back. However, if you’re a parent, you could also expect to receive the rest of your child tax credit money, as well as a reimbursement for money you spent on child care related expenses last year.
Also, if you’re still missing your third stimulus payment, you might receive that when you get your tax refund.
Here’s a list of reasons why your income tax refund might be delayed: 
In testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, IRS Commissioner Charles P. Retting said that the agency received « far more than 10 million returns » last year where taxpayers failed to properly reconcile their stimulus payments with their recovery rebate credit, requiring a manual review and resolution.
If the delay is due to a necessary tax correction made to a recovery rebate credit, earned income tax or additional child tax credit claimed on your return, the IRS will send you an explanation. If there’s a problem that needs to be fixed, the IRS will first try to proceed without contacting you. However, if it needs any more information, it will write you a letter. 
To check the status of your 2021 income tax refund using the IRS tracker tools, you’ll need to provide some personal information: your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number; your filing status (single, married or head of household); and your refund amount in whole dollars, which you can find on your tax return. Make sure it’s been at least 24 hours (or up to four weeks if you mailed your return) before you start tracking your refund. 
Using the IRS tool Where’s My Refund, go to the Get Refund Status page, enter your personal data, then press Submit. If you entered your information correctly, you’ll be taken to a page that shows your refund status. If not, you may be asked to verify your personal tax data and try again. If all the information looks correct, you’ll need to enter the date you filed your taxes, along with whether you filed electronically or on paper.
Where’s My Refund has information on the most recent tax refund that the IRS has on file within the past two years, so if you’re looking for return information from previous years you’ll need to check your IRS online account for more information. Through your own personalized account, you’ll be able to see the total amount you owe, your payment history, key information about your most recent tax return, notices you’ve received from the IRS and your address on file. 
The IRS also has a mobile app called IRS2Go, available for both iOS and Android, that checks your tax refund status. It’s available in English and Spanish. You’ll be able to see if your return has been received, approved and sent. 
In order to log in, you’ll need your Social Security number, filing status and expected refund amount. The IRS updates the data in this tool overnight, so if you don’t see a status change, check back the following day. Once your return and refund are approved, you’ll receive a personalized date by which to expect your money. 
You can check on your refund using the IRS2Go mobile app. 
Both IRS tools (online and mobile app) will show you one of three messages to explain your tax return status.
Although the IRS’ Where’s My Refund tool will generally show one of the three main statuses — Received, Approved or Sent — for your refund, there are a wide variety of messages and notices that some users may see.
One of the most common is Tax Topic 152, a generic message indicating that you’re likely getting a refund, but it hasn’t been approved or sent yet. The notice simply links out to an informational topic page on the IRS FAQ website explaining the types and timing of tax refunds.
During the 2022 tax season, many Reddit tax filers who filed early received the Tax Topic 152 notice from the Where’s My Refund tool accompanied by a worrisome message: « We apologize, but your return processing has been delayed beyond the normal time frame. You can continue to check back here for the most up to date information regarding your refund. We understand your tax refund is very important and we are working to process your return as quickly as possible. »
The purported delay could be an automated message designed for taxpayers claiming the child tax credit or earned income tax credit. Due to additional fraud protection steps, the earliest filers with those credits can receive their refunds will be March 1. Several Reddit users commented that the message eventually cleared and they received notifications their refunds were sent.
Tax Topic 151 is an entirely different scenario: This means your tax return is now under review by the IRS. The agency either needs to verify certain credits or dependents, or it has determined that your tax refund will be reduced to pay money that it believes you owe. You’ll unfortunately need to wait about four weeks to receive a notice from the IRS explaining what you need to do to resolve the status.
There are a large number of other IRS refund codes that a small percentage of tax filers will receive, indicating freezes, math errors on tax returns or undelivered checks. The College Investor offers a long list of IRS refund reference codes and errors. 
While you could try calling the IRS to check your status, the agency’s live phone assistance is extremely limited. You shouldn’t file a second tax return or contact the IRS about the status of your return.
The IRS is directing people to the Let Us Help You page on its website for more information. It also advises taxpayers to get in-person help at Taxpayer Assistance Centers. You can contact your local IRS office or call to make an appointment: 844-545-5640. You can also contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service if you’re eligible for assistance by calling: 877-777-4778. 
Though the chances of getting live assistance are slim, the IRS says you should only call the agency directly if it’s been 21 days or more since you filed your taxes online, or if the Where’s My Refund tool tells you to contact the IRS. You can call 800-829-1040 or 800-829-8374 during regular business hours. 
If you receive your tax refund by direct deposit, you may see IRS TREAS 310 listed for the transaction. The 310 code simply identifies the transaction as a refund from a filed tax return in the form of an electronic payment (direct deposit). You may also see TAX REF in the description field for a refund.
If you see a 449 instead of 310, it means your refund has been offset for delinquent debt.
There are a couple of reasons that your refund would be mailed to you. Your money can only be electronically deposited into a bank account with your name, your spouse’s name or a joint account. If that’s not the reason, you may be getting multiple refund checks, and the IRS can only direct deposit up to three refunds to one account. Additional refunds must be mailed. Also, your bank may reject the deposit and this would be the IRS’ next best way to refund your money quickly. 
It’s also important to note that for refunds, direct deposit isn’t always automatic. Just in case, sign in to your IRS account to check that the agency has your correct banking information. If you are receiving a refund check in the mail, learn how to track it from the IRS to your mailbox.

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