The IRS has informed taxpayers that the agency issues most refunds in less than 21 days for taxpayers who filed electronically and chose direct deposit. However, some refunds may take longer. The IRS listed several factors that can affect the timing of a refund after the agency receives a return. A manual review may be necessary when a return has errors, is incomplete or is affected by identity theft or fraud. Other returns can also take longer to process, including when a return needs a correction to the Child Tax Credit amount or includes a Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, which could take up to 14 weeks to process. The fastest way to get a tax refund is by filing electronically and choosing direct deposit. Taxpayers who don’t have a bank account can find out more on how to open an account at an FDIC-Insured bank or the National Credit Union Locator Tool.

Further, the IRS cautioned taxpayers not to rely on receiving a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying bills. Taxpayers should also take into consideration the time it takes for a financial institution to post the refund to an account or to receive it by mail. Before filing, taxpayers should make IRS.gov their first stop to find online tools to help get the information they need to file. To check the status of a refund, taxpayers should use the Where’s My Refund? tool on IRS.gov. The IRS will contact taxpayers by mail when more information is needed to process a return. IRS representatives can only research the status of a refund if it has been: 21 days or more since it was filed electronically; six weeks or more since a return was mailed; or when the Where’s My Refund? tool tells the taxpayer to contact the IRS.

Additionally, taxpayers whose tax returns from 2020 have not yet been processed should still file their 2021 tax returns by the April due date or request an extension to file. Those filing electronically in this group need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from their most recent tax return. Those waiting on their 2020 tax return to be processed should enter zero dollars for last year’s AGI on the 2021 tax return. When self-preparing a tax return and filing electronically, taxpayers must sign and validate the electronic tax return by entering their prior-year AGI or prior-year Self-Select PIN (SSP). Those who electronically filed last year may have created a five-digit SSP. Generally, tax software automatically enters the information for returning customers. Taxpayers who are using a software product for the first time may have to enter this information.