Popular search terms:
Published:   |   Last Updated: February 8, 2024

TAS Tax Tip: Steps for tracking your 2021 federal income tax refund

Listen to the article

If you filed a 2021 federal income 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. You can start checking on the status of your refund within 24 hours after the IRS has received your electronically filed return, or 4 weeks after you mailed a paper return. Currently you might be waiting a bit longer to receive a refund due to the effects of COVID-19, new tax law changes, and possible errors made on the tax return.

Follow these steps for tracking your 2021 federal income tax refund:

  1. Gather the following information and have it handy:
    • Social security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
    • Your filing status
    • Your exact refund amount

You will need this information to use the first two refund status tools below.

  1. Use one of these IRS refund status tools to check on the status of your return and refund:

Also see “Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions” for what these tools can tell you and what they can’t.

However, when accessing your online account, you will need to verify your identity through an online security process. If you are signing in for the first time, see our TAS Tax Tip: Verifying your identity to access certain IRS systems article for what information you will need to provide and how to finish the security process. You should also review the frequently asked questions listed on the sign-in page and these Online Account Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Do not call the IRS unless instructed to by the application to call.

These online tools are updated every 24 hours and truly are the best way to get your refund status.

Be aware of processing delays

Again, this year some tax returns with errors or items on the return that need an IRS correction due to a tax law change will take longer than the normal timeframes to process, so expect delays. It may take the IRS more than the normal 21 days (for electronically filed returns) to issue refunds for some 2021 tax returns that require review, including but not limited to, ones that claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). Note: For all tax returns that claim EITC and/or CTC, those refunds must be held, by law, until after mid-February and cannot be released before then.

More resources

For more information about finding refunds, visit our Refunds Get Help center. It has information, including step-by-step actions to follow, for the following topics:

We also have an Issues and Errors Get Help center, with information on how to address the following topics:

IRS resources