How Long Will It Take To Get Your Tax Refund?

It’s tax season again. You’ve gathered your W-2s, 1099’s and other pertinent information, completed your tax return and filed it. If you’re owed a refund, now all you have to do is wait.

See: What To Do (and Not Do) If You Can’t Afford Your Property Taxes
Taxes in 2022: Find Out Everything You Need To Know About Filing, Refunds and More 

It can be difficult waiting and wondering just how long it will take to get your tax refund, though. According to the IRS, nine out of 10 tax refunds are issued in less than three weeks. But what about the other 10%? And what can you do to make sure your tax return gets processed as efficiently as possible?

Here are the answers you’re after — straight from trusted tax professionals. 

Tax Refund Delays and Expectations

“The IRS is still dealing with a massive backlog, which has led to considerable tax refund delays and a lot of taxpayers still haven’t received last year’s refunds,” said Joshua Zimmelman, managing partner of Westwood Tax & Consulting LLC.

Zimmelman continued, “The IRS has announced that most refunds will be distributed within 21 days of processing the return, so the sooner a return is filed, the more likely you will get your refund in a reasonable amount of time. However, there are multiple factors that could lead to delays.”

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How Does This Expected Turnaround Compare to Last Year?

“Although the typical turnaround time of 21 days has not changed much, there is a considerable backlog causing millions of taxpayers to experience delays,” said Zimmelman. “This backlog goes back to the end of 2020 and is due to issues caused by the COVID pandemic, specifically, a much smaller IRS staff and past office closures due to quarantine.”

What If You Have To File an Amended Return Due to Errors?

“It generally takes the IRS eight to 12 weeks to process an amended return,” Zimmelman said. “Sometimes it can take longer, up to 16 weeks, but due to the massive backlog, it could take much longer.”

What Should You Double-Check Before Submitting Your Tax Return?

“Any error, no matter how small, could require a manual review of your return and lead to a delay of your refund (or worse, an audit),” said Zimmelman. “Double-check for mistakes. Make sure that all of the information you’ve provided on your return is completely accurate and nothing is missing. That goes for everything from your total income to your current address.”

According to Zimmelman, the following are some common tax return errors that seem minor but could seriously delay your refund:

  • Selecting more than one filing status by mistake. 
  • Putting the wrong name. If you got married or legally changed your name, make sure you’ve updated that information with Social Security.
  • Not printing your information clearly. (Here’s a tip: type it or submit online.)
  • Leaving out important information.
  • Entering information on the wrong line.
  • Forgetting to sign and date your tax return.
  • Giving the incorrect bank account information if you requested direct deposit.
  • Sending it to the wrong address if you filed by mail.
  • Making computational errors. The IRS will usually correct that for you, but it may still result in a delay.
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Mark Steber, chief tax information officer for Jackson Hewitt said, “The first thing we recommend taxpayers do is ask themselves simple questions that will help them understand their tax filing situation compared to previous years: How and where did I earn income? What life changes did I experience last year? Specific to 2021: Did I receive a stimulus payment or advanced monthly Child Tax Credit payments? If tax returns don’t match these life changes, there could be a delay in refunds.”

Steber also pointed out that reporting an incorrect advanced Child Tax Credit payment amount on your return could cause a delay in your refund.

What Can You Do To Get Your Tax Refund Earlier?

Besides making sure your tax return is accurate, here are some other things you can do to possibly receive your tax return earlier. 

File Your Return as Soon as Possible

“I would advise people whose tax returns are straightforward to file as early as possible to get ahead of any potential delays,” said Shamisa Zvoma CPA, tax principal at Friedman LLP. “The sooner you can get it filed away, the sooner things can get processed.”

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Consider E-Filing Over Mailing a Paper Return

“Paper returns are much more likely to be delayed this year, so if you can e-file, you should, ” advised Zimmelman. “You’re also more likely to make mathematical mistakes on a paper return and mistakes can also lead to delays.”

Opt for Direct Deposit

“Paper checks and debit cards sent in the mail are likely to arrive later,” Zimmelman said. “So if you’re expecting a refund, include your banking information on your return for a direct deposit of your refund.”

How To Check the Status of Your Tax Refund?

The easiest way to check the status of your tax refund is to use the Internal Revenue Service’s “Where’s My Refund?” tool. Wait for 24 hours after e-filing or four weeks after mailing your return to start checking. Updates are made daily, usually overnight.

And if you filed earlier in the year, but still haven’t received your tax refund, this might be why: “The IRS is legally required to wait until at least mid-February to send out refunds associated with the Additional Child Tax Credit or the Earned Income Tax Credit,” said Zimmelman. 

According to the IRS website, if you e-filed early, claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit and your return has no errors, you can expect to receive your tax return by March 1.

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About the Author

Cynthia Measom is a personal finance writer and editor with over 12 years of collective experience. Her articles have been featured in MSN, AOL, Yahoo Finance, INSIDER, Houston Chronicle, The Seattle Times and The Network Journal. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
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