If you file your taxes with the IRS EFile, or with an tax software program that files your taxes online for you, then you are in luck – you will generally receive your tax refund much more quickly than if you file your taxes by mail. The reason is that electronic tax returns are easier for the IRS to process, making it faster for them to clear the books on your tax return and send you a refund—via either an ACH transaction or by check.
ACH transactions (bank to bank electronic transfers) are much faster and safer than receiving a paper check. So if you want to receive your refund faster, electronic is the way to go!
IRS E-File – When Will I Get My Tax Refund?
How long does it take to get your tax refund? In past years, the IRS created a schedule for when they will send out federal tax refunds via direct deposit or by check. The general rule of thumb is that direct deposits will be sent out a few days before paper checks are sent out (the delay for a paper check can actually take up to one week, depending on how many refunds the IRS has to process).
When will funds be available? Direct deposits are faster than paper checks. However, keep in mind it may take a few days for your financial institution to make your deposit available to you. Some banks make direct deposits available the day they hit, while other banks may hold the funds for a couple business days. Check with your bank for more information. Paper checks also have a delay for fund availability: it may take several days for the check to arrive in the mail, then another few days after you deposit the check before the funds are available (many banks place a hold on checks).
IRS E-File Schedule for Tax Refunds via Check or Direct Deposits
As alluded to above, the IRS previously released an annual schedule to help tax payers better plan around tax season so tax-filers will know when they can expect to receive their refund check. They stopped this practice in 2013 after there were delays in the refund process due to new anti-fraud measures.
The table below shows an approximation of when your federal tax refund should be direct deposited into your bank account, or the date your check will be mailed. This table is based on previous tax return charts. Remember, this is only an estimation, and not a guarantee.
How to use this tax refund chart: This schedule only applies to tax returns filed electronically. The left column represents the date your tax refund was accepted by the IRS. This chart does not apply to tax refunds filed by mail because it takes the IRS much longer to manually process returns. There is no tax refund schedule for paper returns because it is difficult to know when the IRS will physically process your return.
Note: the first official day to file taxes is January 19, 2016 (according to the IRS). However, some people have reported they were able to submit their tax return as early as January 10, 2016. Your mileage may vary.
|IRS accepts your return (by 11:00 am) between…||Direct Deposit Sent||Paper Check Mailed|
|Jan 19 and Jan 29, 2016||Feb 05, 2016||Feb 06, 2016|
|Jan 30 and Feb 05, 2016||Feb 12, 2016||Feb 13, 2016|
|Feb 06 and Feb 12, 2016||Feb 19, 2016||Feb 20, 2016|
|Feb 13 and Feb 19, 2016||Feb 26, 2016||Feb 27, 2016|
|Feb 20 and Feb 26, 2016||Mar 4, 2016||Mar 5, 2016|
|Feb 27 and Mar 04, 2016||Mar 11, 2016||Mar 12, 2016|
|Mar 05 and Mar 11, 2016||Mar 18, 2016||Mar 19, 2016|
|Mar 12 and Mar 18, 2016||Mar 25, 2016||Mar 26, 2016|
|Mar 19 and Mar 25, 2016||Apr 1, 2016||Apr 2, 2016|
|Mar 26 and Apr 01, 2016||Apr 8, 2016||Apr 9, 2016|
|Apr 02 and Apr 08, 2016||Apr 15, 2016||Apr 16, 2016|
|Apr 09 and Apr 15, 2016||Apr 22, 2016||Apr 23, 2016|
|Apr 16 and Apr 22, 2016||Apr 29, 2016||Apr 30, 2016|
|Apr 23 and Apr 29, 2016||May 6, 2016||May 7, 2016|
|Apr 30 and May 06, 2016||May 13, 2016||May 14, 2016|
|May 07 and May 13, 2016||May 20, 2016||May 21, 2016|
|May 14 and May 20, 2016||May 27, 2016||May 28, 2016|
|May 21 and May 27, 2016||Jun 3, 2016||Jun 4, 2016|
|May 29 and Jun 03, 2016||Jun 10, 2016||Jun 11, 2016|
|Jun 04 and Jun 10, 2016||Jun 17, 2016||Jun 18, 2016|
|Jun 11 and Jun 17, 2016||Jun 24, 2016||Jun 25, 2016|
|Jun 18 and Jun 24, 2016||Jul 1, 2016||Jul 2, 2016|
|Jun 25 and Jul 01, 2016||Jul 8, 2016||Jul 9, 2016|
|Jul 02 and Jul 08, 2016||Jul 15, 2016||Jul 16, 2016|
|Jul 09 and Jul 15, 2016||Jul 22, 2016||Jul 23, 2016|
|Jul 16 and Jul 22, 2016||Jul 29, 2016||Jul 30, 2016|
|Jul 23 and Jul 29, 2016||Aug 5, 2016||Aug 6, 2016|
|Jul 30 and Aug 05, 2016||Aug 12, 2016||Aug 13, 2016|
|Aug 06 and Aug 12, 2016||Aug 19, 2016||Aug 20, 2016|
|Aug 13 and Aug 19, 2016||Aug 26, 2016||Aug 27, 2016|
|Aug 20 and Aug 26, 2016||Sep 2, 2016||Sep 3, 2016|
|Aug 27 and Sep 02, 2016||Sep 9, 2016||Sep 10, 2016|
|Sep 03 and Sep 09, 2016||Sep 16, 2016||Sep 17, 2016|
|Sep 10 and Sep 16, 2016||Sep 23, 2016||Sep 24, 2016|
|Sep 17 and Sep 23, 2016||Sep 30, 2016||Oct 1, 2016|
|Sep 24 and Sep 30, 2016||Oct 7, 2016||Oct 8, 2016|
|Oct 01 and Oct 07, 2016||Oct 14, 2016||Oct 15, 2016|
|Oct 08 and Oct 14, 2016||Oct 21, 2016||Oct 22, 2016|
Some important notes about this tax refund schedule: This is only good when you E-File your taxes because the IRS will notify you of the date of acceptance – generally within 72 hours of receipt. Tax returns sent on paper forms must be manually entered into the IRS computers and there is no way to track the date of acceptance, so this chart won’t work for estimating which day your tax return will be sent.
The other important thing to note is that IRS refund checks are processed fairly quickly, usually within 1-2 weeks. This is just one more reason to say no to refund anticipation loans.
Where is My IRS Refund Check?
You can check the status of your federal tax refund as soon as 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return. Please note the IRS only updates the status of your refund once a week, on Wednesdays. So checking back several times a day throughout the week won’t normally give you any new information. The quickest and easiest way to get this information is to go to the Where’s My Refund page. Or, call 1-800-829-1954 or 1-800-829-4477.
Want a Bigger Tax Refund?
If the idea of a larger tax refund sounds appealing to you, then you may wish to open a Traditional IRA, which can not only help you save money for retirement, but it can also help you receive a larger tax refund, as up to $5,000 worth of contributions are tax deductible ($6k if you are over 50 years of age). Reducing your taxable income by several thousand dollars is worth a nice chunk of change in your tax return next year. If you want to learn more, then here are some top IRA companies, where you can open an IRA.