2021 IRS Tax Refund Schedule (2020 Tax Year) – When Will I Receive My Tax Refund?

The IRS processes tax returns as it receives them. If you file your tax return electronically, the IRS will generaly process direct deposit refunds within 7-10 days of receiving your tax return, and process paper checks within about two weeks. Filing a paper tax return may delay your refund by up to several weeks.
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IRS Tax Refund Schedule
Table of Contents
  1. IRS Refund Schedule for Direct Deposits and Check Refunds
    1. How to use the tax refund chart:
  2. 2021 Tax Refund Schedule (2020 Tax Year)
    1. When Will My Refund Be Available?
  3. Important Tax Filing Dates & Refund Dates
    1. When can I file my tax return?
    2. When are taxes due?
    3. How long does it take to receive my tax refund?
    4. Are there any expected tax refund delays?
  4. How Should You Request to Receive Your Refund?
  5. Tax Refund Schedule for Extensions and Amended Tax Returns
  6. How to Check the Status of Your Tax Return
  7. Get a Larger Tax Refund Next Year
  8. Getting Tax Relief if You Owe Money
  9. Update: IRS Announces Some Tax Refunds Will Be Late
  10. 2020 Tax Refund Schedule (2019 Tax Year)
  11. 2019 Tax Refund Schedule (2018 Tax Year)

When Can I File My Tax Return? The first day to officially file your tax return is February 12, 2021. Almost 90% of tax refunds are processed and issued within 21 days.

When it comes to filing a federal tax return, there are a few questions that people care about more than any other – how much tax will I pay, how much will I get back in my tax refund, and when will I receive it? Everything else, as they 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. 9 out of 10 taxpayers receive their tax refunds within 21 days when they file electronically.

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.

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IRS Refund Schedule for Direct Deposits and Check Refunds

The following tax refund table is based on previous refund tables released by the IRS to help taxpayers know when they should receive their tax refund. The IRS moved to the Modernized E-file System (MEF) in 2013 (2012 tax year). The IRS only issued refunds once per week under the old system. They now issue refunds every business 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 IRS statements, published guidelines, and estimates from past years. This IRS refund schedule should only be used as a rough guideline.

How to use the tax refund chart:

  • Use the left-hand column to look up the date your tax refund was accepted by the IRS
  • 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 federal 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 15, 2021*, then you should file a tax extension request. It’s simple to do, 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 tax deadline has been extended to May 17, 2021, due to the pandemic.

2021 Tax Refund Schedule (2020 Tax Year)

Note: The IRS e-file Open Date is February 12, 2021. However, in 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 below chart.

Tax Return
Accepted By IRS
Refund Status
Approved by IRS
Direct Deposit
Paper Check
Feb 8, 2021Feb 14, 2021Feb 26, 2021Mar 5, 2021
Feb 15, 2021Feb 21, 2021Mar 5, 2021Mar 12, 2021
Feb 22, 2021Feb 28, 2021Mar 12, 2021Mar 19, 2021
Mar 1, 2021Mar 7, 2021Mar 19, 2021Mar 26, 2021
Mar 8, 2021Mar 14, 2021Mar 26, 2021Apr 2, 2021
Mar 15, 2021Mar 21, 2021Apr 2, 2021Apr 9, 2021
Mar 22, 2021Mar 28, 2021Apr 9, 2021Apr 16, 2021
Mar 29, 2021Apr 4, 2021Apr 16, 2021Apr 23, 2021
Apr 5, 2021Apr 11, 2021Apr 23, 2021Apr 30, 2021
Apr 12, 2021Apr 18, 2021Apr 30, 2021May 7, 2021
Apr 19, 2021Apr 25, 2021May 7, 2021May 14, 2021
Apr 26, 2021May 2, 2021May 14, 2021May 21, 2021
May 3, 2021May 9, 2021May 21, 2021May 28, 2021
May 10, 2021May 16, 2021May 28, 2021Jun 4, 2021
May 17, 2021May 23, 2021Jun 4, 2021Jun 11, 2021
May 24, 2021May 30, 2021Jun 11, 2021Jun 18, 2021
May 31, 2021Jun 6, 2021Jun 18, 2021Jun 25, 2021
Jun 7, 2021Jun 13, 2021Jun 25, 2021Jul 2, 2021
Jun 14, 2021Jun 20, 2021Jul 2, 2021Jul 9, 2021
Jun 21, 2021Jun 27, 2021Jul 9, 2021Jul 16, 2021
Jun 28, 2021Jul 4, 2021Jul 16, 2021Jul 23, 2021
Jul 5, 2021Jul 11, 2021Jul 23, 2021Jul 30, 2021
Jul 12, 2021Jul 18, 2021Jul 30, 2021Aug 6, 2021
Jul 19, 2021Jul 25, 2021Aug 6, 2021Aug 13, 2021
Jul 26, 2021Aug 1, 2021Aug 13, 2021Aug 20, 2021
Aug 2, 2021Aug 8, 2021Aug 20, 2021Aug 27, 2021
Aug 9, 2021Aug 15, 2021Aug 27, 2021Sep 3, 2021
Aug 16, 2021Aug 22, 2021Sep 3, 2021Sep 10, 2021
Aug 23, 2021Aug 29, 2021Sep 10, 2021Sep 17, 2021
Aug 30, 2021Sep 5, 2021Sep 17, 2021Sep 24, 2021
Sep 6, 2021Sep 12, 2021Sep 24, 2021Oct 1, 2021
Sep 13, 2021Sep 19, 2021Oct 1, 2021Oct 8, 2021
Sep 20, 2021Sep 26, 2021Oct 8, 2021Oct 15, 2021
Sep 27, 2021Oct 3, 2021Oct 15, 2021Oct 22, 2021
Oct 4, 2021Oct 10, 2021Oct 22, 2021Oct 29, 2021
Oct 11, 2021Oct 17, 2021Oct 29, 2021Nov 5, 2021
Oct 18, 2021Oct 24, 2021Nov 5, 2021Nov 12, 2021
Oct 25, 2021Oct 31, 2021Nov 12, 2021Nov 19, 2021
Nov 1, 2021Nov 7, 2021Nov 19, 2021Nov 26, 2021
Nov 8, 2021Nov 14, 2021Nov 26, 2021Dec 3, 2021
Nov 15, 2021Nov 21, 2021Dec 3, 2021Dec 10, 2021
Nov 22, 2021Nov 28, 2021Dec 10, 2021Dec 17, 2021
Nov 29, 2021Dec 5, 2021Dec 17, 2021Dec 24, 2021
Dec 6, 2021Dec 12, 2021Dec 24, 2021Dec 31, 2021
Unofficial IRS tax refund schedule, based on previous years.

*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.

When Will My Refund Be Available?

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.

Important Tax Filing Dates & Refund Dates

When can I file my tax return?

The first official day to file your 2020 tax return is February 12, 2021. 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. Some taxpayers who submit their electronic tax return early may be able to participate in the IRS HUB Testing program. This is a controlled testing of the federal tax return system. The IRS processes a small percentage of tax returns from major software providers to test the tax return submission process and allow for fixing bugs before opening the doors to all taxpayers.

When are taxes due?

Last year was a unique year for taxes, with the IRS automatically extending the tax filing deadline and the date federal income tax payments were due. There is a similar delay this year.

The tax filing deadline for the 2020 tax year is May 17, 2021.

The tax filing deadline was extended until May 17, 2021 due to the pandemic. This gives taxpayers an additional month in which to complete and file their tax returns.

April 15 is the tax deadline for most years unless it falls on a weekend or an observed holiday. April 16th is the observed holiday for Emancipation Day, for Washington DC, which may impact the tax-filing deadline in some years.

You can file a tax extension if you are not ready to file your taxes by the deadline. The tax deadline when you file an extension is October 15th, however, any federal income tax payments are due by the original tax filing deadline. It is recommended to make an estimated tax payment prior to April 15th if you believe you will owe federal taxes.

How long does it take to receive my tax refund?

Approximately 90% of taxpayers 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.

You bank will usually make your payment available within 1-3 days of receiving the payment from the IRS. Checks may take longer to clear your bank.

Are there any expected tax refund delays?

Yes, tax refund delays are common. The IRS is required by federal law to withhold tax refunds for taxpayers who claim Earned Income Tax Credits and Additional Child Tax Credit until at least Feb. 15, 2020. Keep in mind it can still take a week to receive your 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.

Note: The IRS anticipates a slower tax season for the 2020 tax year due to the backlog of tax returns that were delayed due to the pandemic. There may also be some complications for those who did not initially qualify for the the 2020 economic stimulus payment, but may qualify for the payment based on a change of income in 2020.

The IRS recommends filing your tax return electronically for faster processing and tax refund payments.

Also note that new identity theft protections and anti-fraud measures may hold up some refunds, as some federal tax returns may be held for further review.

How Should You Request to Receive Your Refund?

The IRS gives you three options for receiving your refund:

  • direct deposit (you can split your refund and have it sent to up to three banks)
  • paper check (sent to your home)
  • deposit into US Savings Bonds

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, direct deposit is the fastest and safest option. You can receive your refund via an ACH bank transaction in as little as a few days. Paper checks, however, can take over a week to process, several days to travel via the postal system, and several days to clear your bank.

*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 IRS tax refund status roughly 24 hours after your receive confirmation from the IRS that they have received your tax refund via E-File. You will need to wait at least 4 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.

What you will need:

  • Social Security Number
  • Filing Status
  • Exact refund amount

You can also call the IRS at 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 day during the week, usually between midnight and 6 am. They do not update the status more than once a day, so checking throughout the day will not give you a different result.

Should I call the IRS to check my federal tax refund status? The IRS has stated you should only call them if it has been:

  • 21 days or more since you e-filed
  • 6 weeks or more since you mailed your return, or when
  • “Where’s My Refund,” tells you to contact the IRS

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.

Getting Tax Relief if You Owe Money

If you go through the tax filing process and come out owing the government money, there are options for getting tax relief. Some of the top companies to help with getting relief for taxes owed are:

Update: IRS Announces Some Tax Refunds Will Be Late

The IRS recently upgraded their computer systems to prevent tax refund fraud. This may affect people who filed early in the year. Find out if your tax refund will be late.

2020 Tax Refund Schedule (2019 Tax Year)

The IRS e-file Open Date was scheduled for January 21, 2020.

The pandemic in 2020 caused the IRS to extend the 2019 tax filing deadline from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. Taxpayers were also able to defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax. The IRS urges taxpayers who are due a refund to file as soon as possible. Most tax refunds are still being issued within 21 days.” More info.

Tax Return Accepted By IRS before 11:00 am between…Direct Deposit Sent*Paper Check Mailed*
Jan 21 and Jan 26, 2020Feb 03, 2020Feb 07, 2020
Jan 27 and Feb 02, 2020Feb 10, 2020Feb 14, 2020
Feb 03 and Feb 09, 2020Feb 17, 2020Feb 21, 2020
Feb 10 and Feb 16, 2020Feb 24, 2020Feb 28, 2020
Feb 17 and Feb 23, 2020Mar 02, 2020Mar 06, 2020
Feb 24 and Mar 01, 2020Mar 19, 2020Mar 13, 2020
Mar 02 and Mar 08, 2020Mar 16, 2020Mar 20, 2020
Mar 19 and Mar 15, 2020Mar 23, 2020Mar 27, 2020
Mar 16 and Mar 22, 2020Mar 30, 2020Apr 03, 2020
Mar 23 and Mar 29, 2020Apr 06, 2020Apr 10, 2020
Mar 30 and Apr 05, 2020Apr 13, 2020Apr 17, 2020
Apr 06 and Apr 12, 2020Apr 20, 2020Apr 24, 2020
Apr 13 and Apr 19, 2020Apr 27, 2020May 01, 2020
Apr 20 and Apr 26, 2020May 04, 2020May 08, 2020
Apr 27 and May 03, 2020May 11, 2020May 15, 2020
May 04 and May 10, 2020May 18, 2020May 22, 2020
May 11 and May 17, 2020May 25, 2020May 29, 2020
May 18 and May 24, 2020Jun 01, 2020Jun 05, 2020
May 25 and May 31, 2020Jun 08, 2020Jun 12, 2020
Jun 01 and Jun 07, 2020Jun 15, 2020Jun 19, 2020
Jun 08 and Jun 14, 2020Jun 22, 2020Jun 26, 2020
Jun 15 and Jun 21, 2020Jun 29, 2020Jul 03, 2020
Jun 22 and Jun 28, 2020Jul 06, 2020Jul 10, 2020
Jun 29 and Jul 05, 2020Jul 13, 2020Jul 17, 2020
Jul 06 and Jul 12, 2020Jul 20, 2020Jul 24, 2020
Jul 13 and Jul 19, 2020Jul 27, 2020Jul 31, 2020
Jul 20 and Jul 26, 2020Aug 03, 2020Aug 7, 2020
Jul 27 and Aug 02, 2020Aug 10, 2020Aug 14, 2020
Aug 03 and Aug 09, 2020Aug 17, 2020Aug 21, 2020
Aug 10 and Aug 16, 2020Aug 24, 2020Aug 28, 2020
Aug 17 and Aug 23, 2020Aug 31, 2020Sep 04, 2020
Aug 24 and Aug 30, 2020Sep 07, 2020Sep 11, 2020
Aug 31 and Sep 06, 2020Sep 14, 2020Sep 18, 2020
Sep 07 and Sep 13, 2020Sep 21, 2020Sep 25, 2020
Sep 14 and Sep 20, 2020Sep 28, 2020Oct 02, 2020
Sep 20 and Sep 27, 2020Oct 05, 2020Oct 09, 2020
Sep 28 and Oct 04, 2020Oct 12, 2020Oct 16, 2020
Oct 05 and Oct 11, 2020Oct 19, 2020Oct 23, 2020
Oct 12 and Oct 18, 2020Oct 26, 2020Oct 30, 2020

2019 Tax Refund Schedule (2018 Tax Year)

Note: The first official day to file tax 2018 returns was January 29, 2018.

Tax Return Accepted By IRS before 11:00 am between…Direct Deposit Sent*Paper Check Mailed*
Jan 28 and Feb 03, 2019Feb 11, 2019Feb 15, 2019
Feb 04 and Feb 10, 2019Feb 18, 2019Feb 22, 2019
Feb 11 and Feb 17, 2019Feb 25, 2019Mar 1, 2019
Feb 18 and Feb 24, 2019Mar 4, 2019Mar 8, 2019
Feb 25 and Mar 03, 2019Mar 12, 2019Mar 15, 2019
Mar 04 and Mar 10, 2019Mar 18, 2019Mar 22, 2019
Mar 11 and Mar 17, 2019Mar 25, 2019Mar 29, 2019
Mar 18 and Mar 24, 2019Apr 1, 2019Apr 5, 2019
Mar 25 and Mar 31, 2019Apr 8, 2019Apr 12, 2019
Apr 01 and Apr 07, 2019Apr 15, 2019Apr 19, 2019
Apr 08 and Apr 14, 2019Apr 22, 2019Apr 26, 2019
Apr 15 and Apr 21, 2019Apr 29, 2019May 3, 2019
Apr 22 and Apr 28, 2019May 6, 2019May 10, 2019
Apr 29 and May 05, 2019May 13, 2019May 17, 2019
May 06 and May 12, 2019May 20, 2019May 24, 2019
May 13 and May 19, 2019May 27, 2019May 30, 2019
May 20 and May 26, 2019Jun 3, 2019Jun 7, 2019
May 27 and Jun 02, 2019Jun 10, 2019Jun 14, 2019
Jun 03 and Jun 09, 2019Jun 17, 2019Jun 21, 2019
Jun 10 and Jun 16, 2019Jun 24, 2019Jun 28, 2019
Jun 17 and Jun 23, 2019Jul 1, 2019Jul 5, 2019
Jun 24 and Jun 30, 2019Jul 8, 2019Jul 12, 2019
Jul 01 and Jul 07, 2019Jul 15, 2019Jul 19, 2019
Jul 08 and Jul 14, 2019Jul 22, 2019Jul 26, 2019
Jul 15 and Jul 21, 2019Jul 29, 2019Aug 2, 2019
Jul 22 and Jul 28, 2019Aug 5, 2019Aug 9, 2019
Jul 29 and Aug 04, 2019Aug 12, 2019Aug 16, 2019
Aug 05 and Aug 11, 2019Aug 19, 2019Aug 23, 2019
Aug 12 and Aug 18, 2019Aug 26, 2019Aug 30, 2019
Aug 19 and Aug 25, 2019Sep 2, 2019Sep 6, 2019
Aug 26 and Sep 01, 2019Sep 9, 2019Sep 13, 2019
Sep 02 and Sep 08, 2019Sep 16, 2019Sep 20, 2019
Sep 09 and Sep 15, 2019Sep 23, 2019Sep 27, 2019
Sep 16 and Sep 22, 2019Sep 30, 2019Oct 4, 2019
Sep 23 and Sep 29, 2019Oct 7, 2019Oct 11, 2019
Sep 30 and Oct 06, 2019Oct 14, 2019Oct 18, 2019
Oct 07 and Oct 13, 2019Oct 21, 2019Oct 25, 2019
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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is The Military Wallet's founder. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over six years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the Illinois Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

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Featured In: Ryan's writing has been featured in the following publications: Forbes, Military.com, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine (print and online editions), Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA, Go Banking Rates, and many other publications.

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  1. C Smith says

    I think this article is a complete lie, I filed in 2020 it took 6 months for a return. Here it is 2021 I filed in March and as of Aug 11, 2021 no response, no refund, and the government claims they want to aid the public through these troubling times but all of it is a lie. Hopefully you didn’t need your refund for you to make it another month.

    • Samantha Bodwin says

      Imine was accepted April 17th 21day est.refund deposite date may 8th its july8th and still no refund

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