According to the IRS, approximately 90% of tax refunds are issued in under 21 days. However, some tax returns require more attention, which can lengthen the process and push back your tax refund date.
The deadline for filing 2023 taxes is Monday April 15, 2024. If you request an extension, the deadline is Tuesday October 15, 2024. Keep reading to learn more about deadlines for 2023 tax returns, and how to track the progress of your tax refund.
Tax Refund Process, Explained
The process begins when you submit your return to the IRS. The IRS then breaks down the process into three steps: return received, refund approved, and refund sent.
If you file electronically, you should receive an email confirming that your return was received within 24 hours. Paper return filers will have to wait longer.
After the IRS processes your return and confirms the information, your refund will be approved and a tax refund date will be issued. This takes about 3 weeks for electronic filers. Taxpayers who file a paper return by mail will wait at least four weeks.
The last step is when your tax refund is sent out. For filers who provide direct deposit information, your refund should appear in your account almost immediately. Taxpayers who do not include their bank information will have to wait for a paper check to arrive by mail.
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Factors Impacting How Long a Tax Refund Takes
Several factors can affect the timing of your tax refund — including your financial organization skills and the accuracy of the information you provide. If you don’t receive your tax refund within 21 days, your return is likely being manually reviewed due to a mistake or complication.
The following factors can also affect your 2023 tax refund date.
How Early You File
Filing early is essential if you want to get your tax refund early. Ideally, you should be able to compile all your tax documents by the end of January. Forms such as W-2s, 1099-Rs, 1098-Es, and 1098s will provide the income information you need to file.
Filing early means submitting your tax return before the official deadline of Monday April 15, 2024, for your 2023 tax return. Since many taxpayers file their returns on the official deadline, filing early allows you to beat the rush.
Similarly, if you requested an extension, filing “early” means before the October deadline. The deadline for 2023 returns is Tuesday October 15, 2024. However, taxpayers can file anytime before October. This way, you’ll avoid the bottleneck that inevitably occurs on the deadline itself.
If You Are Claiming Certain Credits
Claiming certain credits on your tax return can push back your 2023 tax refund date. These include:
• Additional Child Tax Credit
• Injured Spouse Allocation
• Child Tax Credit, if you claim the wrong amount
E-filed or Sent By Mail
Whether you do your own taxes by hand, use software to assist you, or hire an accountant or tax preparer, it’s best to opt for electronic filing. E-filed taxes are accepted by the IRS within a day or two, while mailed paper returns can take weeks to arrive.
Existing Government Debt
Some taxpayers owe the federal or state government due to unpaid child support, taxes from years past, or student loan payments. Taxpayers facing these issues will receive a reduced refund or none at all, and any refund can take longer than the standard 21-day timeframe after e-filing.
How to Track the Progress of Your Refund
If you’re like most taxpayers, it won’t take long until you start wondering where their tax refund is. Getting hold of a live IRS representative by phone is possible but challenging during tax season.
Fortunately, the IRS’s Refund Status tool provides updates on your 2024 tax refund date just 24 hours after you submit your 2023 taxes electronically.
The tool shows taxpayers one of three statuses: return received, refund approved, or refund sent. After the refund is approved, the IRS will give you a tax refund date. If you mailed your return, you’ll have to wait about four weeks for the tool to provide information on your refund.
What to Do Once Your Refund Arrives
How should I spend my tax refund? It’s a perennial question for taxpayers. Top choices include paying down debt, saving for a vacation, and investing. The important thing is to plan ahead so you don’t spend it all on frivolous or impulsive purchases.
One popular option is to treat your refund like regular income. You can budget the majority of the money for “needs,” by setting up an emergency fund or paying down your mortgage. The rest can be set aside for “wants,” such as a year’s worth of dining out.
An online budget planner can help you decide the appropriate percentages for needs and wants. Likewise, a debt pay off planner can show you how much sooner you’ll be debt-free after depositing some or all of your refund.
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What Happens If You Can’t File Income Taxes by the Deadline
Each year, taxpayers unable to file their return on time (usually mid April) can ask the IRS for an extension. The IRS’s Free File tool allows you to electronically submit a request to change your filing deadline to October.
Be aware that taxpayers who want an extension must make an educated guess about the taxes they owe and pay the IRS that amount.
How to File Form 4868 for a Tax Return Extension
Another way to file for an extension is to complete form 4868. You can submit the form electronically or by mail.
While you cannot predict your exact tax refund date, filing electronically early in the tax season can help you get your refund faster. The IRS sends out most refunds within 21 days of receiving the return. The deadline for filing 2023 taxes is Monday April 15, 2024. If you request an extension, the deadline for filing a 2023 tax return is Tuesday October 15, 2024.
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When should I expect my 2024 tax refund?
Typically, you can expect to receive your refund within 21 days of filing your return. However, mistakes and special tax credits can slow down the process.
What days does the IRS deposit refunds in 2024?
The IRS deposits refunds Monday through Friday, except for holidays.
How long does it take the IRS to approve a refund in 2024?
Most refunds are issued in 21 days or less from when the IRS accepts your return. However, if there are issues with the return, it may take longer.
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