When it comes to filing a tax return, there are a few questions that people care about more than any other – how much am I paying on taxes, how much will I get back in my tax refund, and when will I receive it? Everything else, the say, is just details.
There is no quick and easy answer to the first two questions. However, we can give you a rough idea of when you will receive your tax refund, but only if you file your federal taxes electronically using a software program or with the IRS E-File. Expect longer delays if you file your return on paper, because it takes longer for the IRS to process your paperwork. The tax refund chart below offers more information on when to expect tax refunds.
Learn how military members can file taxes for free.
Important Tax Filing Dates & Refund Dates
When can I file my tax return? The first day to officially file your 2016 tax return is January 23, 2017. However, many tax software programs will allow you to complete your return and “file” it before that date. They will then hold the returns until the IRS begins accepting them.
When are taxes due? You must file your taxes by April 18, 2017. (April 15 is the tax deadline for most years, unless it falls on a weekend or an observed holiday. April 15, 2017 is the observed holiday for Emancipation Day, for Washington DC). You can file a tax extension if you are not ready to file your taxes by the deadline.
How long does it take to receive my tax refund? Approximately 90% of tax payers will receive their refunds in less than 21 days from the day their tax return was accepted by the IRS. Most people receive their refund in an average of 10-14 days.
Are there any expected tax refund delays? Yes. The IRS is required to hold tax refunds for taxpayers who claim Earned Income Tax Credits and Additional Child Tax credit until at least Feb. 15, 2017. Keep in mind it can still take a week to receive the refund after the IRS releases it. So some people who file early may experience delays while awaiting their refund. Refunds should be processed normally after this date. Also note that new identity theft protections and anti-fraud measures may hold up some refunds, as some tax returns may be held for further review.
IRS E-File Schedule for Check Refunds and Direct Deposits
The following tax refund table is based on previous refund tables released by the IRS to help tax payers know when they should receive their tax refund.
The IRS moved to the Modernized E-file System (MEF) for tax year 2012. The IRS only issued refunds once per week under the old system. They now issue refunds every day, Monday through Friday (except holidays).
Due to changes in the IRS auditing system, they no longer release a full schedule as they did in previous years. The following chart is based on estimates from past years and should only be used as a rough guideline.
To use the tax refund chart:
- Use the left hand column to look up the date your tax refund was accepted
- Use the middle or right column to look up when you should receive your refund (depending on how you requested your refund – direct deposit or paper check).
If you filed your taxes with E-File, you should receive a confirmation that your tax return was accepted by the IRS. This date will go in the left column. If you didn’t file your taxes electronically, then this chart may not be useful for you for two reasons: you won’t have a confirmation date regarding when your tax return was accepted, and paper tax returns are manually entered by IRS employees, so the process takes longer.
You will also note that this chart covers dates beyond the traditional filing date. If you file after April 18, 2017, then you should file a tax extension request. It’s simple, and can potentially save you a lot of money in penalties. Note: Some military members may be eligible for additional tax deadline extensions if they were deployed or served overseas during the tax year.
Note: The IRS announced the official first day to file tax returns is January 23, 2017. However, in some previous years, the IRS has accepted tax returns early, or delayed the acceptance of returns, depending on technical issues. We will update this article to reflect that information if we hear about it this year. You can try to extrapolate the refund date based on the the below chart.
|Tax Return Accepted By IRS before 11:00 am between…||Direct Deposit Sent*||Paper Check Mailed*|
|Jan 23, 2017 (first day IRS accepts returns) and Jan 28, 2017||Feb 03, 2017||Feb 06, 2017|
|Jan 29 and Feb 04, 2017||Feb 10, 2017||Feb 13, 2017|
|Feb 05 and Feb 11, 2017||Feb 17, 2017||Feb 21, 2017|
|Feb 12 and Feb 18, 2017||Feb 24, 2017||Feb 27 , 2017|
|Feb 19 and Feb 25, 2017||Mar 3, 2017||Mar 6, 2017|
|Feb 26 and Mar 04, 2017||Mar 10, 2017||Mar 13, 2017|
|Mar 05 and Mar 11, 2017||Mar 17, 2017||Mar 20, 2017|
|Mar 12 and Mar 18, 2017||Mar 24, 2017||Mar 27, 2017|
|Mar 19 and Mar 25, 2017||Mar 31, 2017||Apr 3, 2017|
|Mar 26 and Apr 01, 2017||Apr 7, 2017||Apr 10, 2017|
|Apr 02 and Apr 08, 2017||Apr 14, 2017||Apr 17, 2017|
|Apr 09 and Apr 15, 2017||Apr 21, 2017||Apr 24, 2017|
|Apr 16 and Apr 22, 2017||Apr 28, 2017||May 1, 2017|
|Apr 23 and Apr 29, 2017||May 5, 2017||May 8, 2017|
|Apr 30 and May 06, 2017||May 12, 2017||May 15, 2017|
|May 07 and May 13, 2017||May 19, 2017||May 22, 2017|
|May 14 and May 20, 2017||May 26, 2017||May 30, 2017|
|May 21 and May 27, 2017||Jun 2, 2017||Jun 5, 2017|
|May 28 and Jun 03, 2017||Jun 9, 2017||Jun 12, 2017|
|Jun 04 and Jun 10, 2017||Jun 16, 2017||Jun 19, 2017|
|Jun 11 and Jun 17, 2017||Jun 23, 2017||Jun 26, 2017|
|Jun 18 and Jun 24, 2017||Jun 30, 2017||Jul 3, 2017|
|Jun 25 and Jul 01, 2017||Jul 7, 2017||Jul 10, 2017|
|Jul 02 and Jul 08, 2017||Jul 14, 2017||Jul 17, 2017|
|Jul 09 and Jul 15, 2017||Jul 21, 2017||Jul 24, 2017|
|Jul 16 and Jul 22, 2017||Jul 28, 2017||Jul 31, 2017|
|Jul 23 and Jul 29, 2017||Aug 4, 2017||Aug 7, 2017|
|Jul 30 and Aug 05, 2017||Aug 11, 2017||Aug 14, 2017|
|Aug 06 and Aug 12, 2017||Aug 18, 2017||Aug 21, 2017|
|Aug 13 and Aug 19, 2017||Aug 25, 2017||Aug 28, 2017|
|Aug 20 and Aug 26, 2017||Sep 1, 2017||Sep 5, 2017|
|Aug 27 and Sep 02, 2017||Sep 8, 2017||Sep 11, 2017|
|Sep 03 and Sep 09, 2017||Sep 15, 2017||Sep 18, 2017|
|Sep 10 and Sep 16, 2017||Sep 22, 2017||Sep 25, 2017|
|Sep 17 and Sep 23, 2017||Sep 29, 2017||Oct 2, 2017|
|Sep 24 and Sep 30, 2017||Oct 6, 2017||Oct 10, 2017|
|Oct 01 and Oct 07, 2017||Oct 13, 2017||Oct 16, 2017|
|Oct 08 and Oct 14, 2017||Oct 20, 2017||Oct 23, 2017|
*Note: Again, these are estimated dates based on previous tax refund schedules released by the IRS. The IRS no longer publishes these tax refund charts, due to their auditing process.
Keep in mind it may take a few days for your financial institution to make your deposit available to you, or it may take several days for the check to arrive in the mail. Keep this in mind when planning to use your tax refund. The IRS states to allow for 5 additional days for the funds to become available to you. In almost all cases a direct deposit will get you your tax refund more quickly than 5 days, and in some cases will be available immediately.
How Should You Request to Receive Your Refund?
The IRS gives you three options for receiving your refund. You can choose to receive your refund in a direct deposit (you can split your refund and have it sent to up to three banks), you can have a paper check sent to your home, or you can choose to buy US Savings Bonds with your tax refund. You can also apply a refund to any future taxes owed. This is a popular choice among some small business owners who are required to pay estimated taxes. Of the three refund options available to you, the Direct Deposit option is the fastest and safest option.
*Note: Some tax software companies also offer the option of receiving a tax refund on a prepaid debit card. I’m not particularly fond of this option, but it is available to some tax filers. In this case, the refund is first sent to the tax preparation company, then they issue you the prepaid debit card.
Tax Refund Schedule for Extensions and Amended Tax Returns
The refund schedule should be the same if you filed for a tax extension, however, there is no official schedule for tax refunds for amended tax returns. The above list only includes dates for e-filing an original tax return. Amended tax returns are processed manually, and often take 8-12 weeks to process. If you do not receive an amended tax return refund within 8 weeks after you file it, then you should contact the IRS to check on the status.
How to Check the Status of Your Tax Return
You should be able to check the status of your tax refund roughly 72 hours after your receive confirmation form the IRS that they have received your tax refund via E-File. You will need to wait at least 3 weeks if you mailed in your tax return. The best way to check the status of your federal tax refund is to visit the Where’s My Refund page at the IRS website, or, call 1-800-829-1954, or 1-800-829-4477, or 1-800-829-1040 and inquire about your tax return status with an IRS a customer service representative. Note that the IRS only updates tax return statuses once a week, on Wednesdays.
Get a Larger Tax Refund Next Year
If you want a bigger tax refund next year, then there are a few ways you can increase the amount of money the government will give you as a tax refund. One of the easiest ways is by contributing to a tax-deferred retirement plan such as a 401k, the Thrift Savings Plan, or by opening a Traditional IRA, which allows you to deduct up to an additional $5,500 on your taxes each year (up to $6,500 if you are age 50 or older). You can open an IRA in a variety of locations, including banks, brokerage firms, independent advisors, and more.