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taxes

How Long It Takes to Get Your Tax Refund

Filing your return electronically and using direct deposit can speed up the process by weeks.

Question: I just filed my income tax return. How soon can I expect to receive my refund?

Answer: It depends on how you filed and how you're getting your refund. You'll get the money the fastest if you e-filed your return and have your refund deposited directly into your bank account. E-filers generally receive their refunds less than 21 days after filing. If you mailed in a paper return, it may take up to six weeks to receive your refund.

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Your refund may be delayed, however, if you claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. The IRS is taking longer to review returns that claim those credits to help prevent tax ID theft. In that case, the earliest you could receive your refund is February 27 -- and that's if you chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with your tax return. Otherwise, it will take longer to get your refund. See the IRS's Direct Deposit page for more information about your direct deposit options and instructions.

You can check on the status of your refund with the IRS's Where's My Refund tool. You'll need to provide your Social Security number, your tax-filing status and your refund amount to look up its status. You can use the tool starting at least 24 hours after e-filing, or four weeks after mailing in your return. The IRS updates the information daily, usually overnight.

The Where's My Refund tool doesn't work if you filed an amended return. In that case, you can use the Where's My Amended Return tool to look up the status of Form 1040X, Amended Tax Return, for the current year and the previous three years.

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