When Will You Get Your Tax Refund? Here’s When to Expect That Check

Find out when you can expect to get your tax refund in 2018.

Perhaps the top tax refund question that filers ask is, “When will I get my tax refund?” The answer is that it depends on when you file your tax return.

For regular filers, the earliest that funds related to the earned-income tax credit or additional child tax credit will be available in taxpayer bank accounts or debit cards is Feb. 27, 2018, according to the Internal Revenue Service. This applies to taxpayers who chose direct deposit and if there are no other issues with their tax return.

As far as the general rule for when to expect tax refunds: The IRS issues most refunds in fewer than 21 days after filing, according to the agency. Generally, you will get your tax refund about three weeks after you file your tax return.

Here’s what you need to know about IRS refunds — and when you can expect your tax refund in 2018.

Tax Refund Schedule for 2017 Returns

Almost 75 percent of returns filed in the 2017 filing season received refunds; the remaining 25 percent did not get a refund or owed money when they filed their return. But don’t spend your anticipated refund before you receive it — if you’re expecting to receive a tax refund, two dates are important:

  • Jan. 29, 2018: No matter how much of a hurry you’re in to get your taxes turned in to the IRS, Jan. 29 is the earliest date that taxpayers could file 2017 income tax returns. Typically, the IRS processes refunds within 21 days, and the IRS has stated it expects to process nine out of 10 refunds within that time frame. So if you submitted your tax return on Jan. 29, you could likely expect to receive your refund by Feb. 19.
  • Feb. 27, 2018: If you’re claiming the earned-income tax credit or need to apply for the child tax credit, you’ll have to wait longer. Feb. 27 is the earliest date that the IRS expects refunds for tax returns claiming those tax credits to be available to taxpayers. If you’re claiming either credit, that means the IRS holds back your entire refund — not just the portion connected to the specific tax credit.

Note that tax returns that require additional review might take more time.

Where’s My Refund?

The IRS website offers a “Where’s My Refund?” tool that allows you to track your refund after you’ve filed your income tax return. You can also track your refund through the IRS2Go app with the same information. The site will tell you the stage of your return:

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

To track your refund, you’ll need your Social Security number, your filing status and the exact amount of your refund. Typically, you can start tracking your return one day after you file if you submit your return electronically; but if you mail in a paper tax return, it takes about one month.

Tax Tip: How to Protect Your Tax Refund From Being Stolen

How to Get Your Tax Refund Faster

To improve your chances of getting your tax refund sooner rather than later, there are few steps you can take. Here’s what you can do to get your refund faster:

  • File early. In general, the sooner you file, the sooner you will get your refund. But returns claiming certain tax refunds simply can’t be processed sooner than late February.
  • Check your return for errors or omissions. When the IRS needs to contact you for additional information, it slows down how quickly you receive your refund.
  • Opt to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account. With direct deposit, it can take up to five days after the refund is sent to the bank to show up in your account, but with a paper check, it can take several weeks before you receive it — and you still have to cash it. Plus, you’ll save the government money and make the process more secure.
  • Make sure your direct deposit account is in your name. The IRS can only deposit a check into an account in your name, your spouse’s name, or a joint account. If your account has others named on it or is in someone else’s name, the IRS will mail you a paper check instead.

Up Next: Here’s the No. 1 Thing Americans Do With Their Tax Refund

Ruth Sarreal contributed to the reporting for this article.