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Published:   |   Last Updated: October 24, 2023

Locating a Refund

If you filed a tax return and are expecting a refund from the IRS, you may want to find out the status of the refund, or at least get an idea of when you might receive it. The IRS issues most refunds in 21 calendar days. You can check the status of your refund with the “Where’s My Refund?” tool or the IRS2Go mobile app.

Person with dollar signs around them

What do I need to know?

The Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes (PATH) Act made the following changes, which became effective for the 2017 filing season, to help prevent revenue loss due to identity theft and refund fraud related to fabricated wages and withholdings:

  • The IRS may not issue a credit or refund to you before February 15, if you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on your tax return.
  • This change only affects returns claiming EITC or ACTC filed before February 15.
  • The IRS will hold your entire refund, including any part of your refund not associated with the EITC or ACTC.
  • Neither TAS, nor the IRS, can release any part of your refund before that date, even if you’re experiencing a financial hardship.

Do you need to check the status of your refund?

You can check the status of your refund with the “Where’s My Refund?” tool or the IRS2Go mobile app.

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What should I do?

When can I check on my refund?

  • Did you file your tax return electronically? Within 24 hours after the IRS receives your tax return.
  • Did you file a paper return? Four weeks after mailing your tax return.
  • Did you file an amended return? Refund information won’t be available online, whether you filed your tax return electronically or on paper. Call the IRS at 800-829-1040 (TTY/TDD 800-829-4059.) You can, however, check the status of your amended tax return with Where’s My Amended Return? on IRS.gov. It should generally be available three weeks after you mail the amended tax return to the IRS.

When checking on your refund, have this information available:

  • Your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or your spouse’s SSN or ITIN, if you filed a joint tax return.
  • Your filing status (single, head of household, married filing joint, or married filing separate).
  • The exact refund amount shown on the tax return.
  • If you chose to get your refund by direct deposit or paper check.
    • If you selected direct deposit, did you ask the IRS to divide it among multiple accounts?

Was the refund a Refund Anticipation Check or Refund Anticipation Loan? Contact your tax return preparer.

If you didn’t receive your refund or didn’t get the amount you expected, there are several possible reasons why


There are steps you can take to determine which of the above reasons is most likely — the I don’t have my refund common situation will take you through the possibilities.


How will this affect me?

If there’s not enough information to verify your identity and filing history for the tax year in question, the IRS won’t be able to help you locate the refund.


Wait, I still need help.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayers’ rights. We can offer you help if your tax problem is causing a financial difficulty, you’ve tried and been unable to resolve your issue with the IRS, or you believe an IRS system, process, or procedure just isn’t working as it should. If you qualify for our assistance, which is always free, we will do everything possible to help you.

Visit www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov or call 1-877-777-4778.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent from the IRS and TAS. LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve tax problems with the IRS. LITCs can represent taxpayers in audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes before the IRS and in court. In addition, LITCs can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee. For more information or to find an LITC near you, see the LITC page on the TAS website or Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.

Resources and Guidance


Did you know there is a Taxpayer Bill of Rights?

The taxpayer Bill of Rights is grouped into 10 easy to understand categories outlining the taxpayer rights and protections embedded in the tax code.

It is also what guides the advocacy work we do for taxpayers.

Read more about your rights