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Published:   |   Last Updated: May 7, 2024

Where’s My Refund?

If you filed a  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.

Follow these steps for tracking your  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 using Id.me. You should 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.

Reasons you may not have your refund yet

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC): If you claimed the EITC or the ACTC, and there are no errors, you should receive your refund, if you selected Direct Deposit around the first week of March. However, if there are problems with any of the information related to the claim, your refund will be held, and you will be asked to supply more information. If you receive an IRS letter or notice about your claim, reply immediately following the steps outlined and using the contact information provided.

Identity Theft: Tax-related identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information to commit tax fraud. The IRS has specific programming to review tax returns to identify instances of possible identity theft, which can also cause a delay in issuing a refund.

  • If this is the case, you should receive IRS letter 5071c requesting you to contact the IRS Identity Verification telephone number provided in the letter or take other steps. The right ones for you are based on what’s happening with your tax account, so follow the instructions in the correspondence.
  • You can also see our Identity Theft page or for more information.

Errors on or Incomplete Tax Returns: Your refund may be delayed for something as simple as a forgotten signature or because there is some other type of error, including mathematical errors or if the income reported by you doesn’t match what your employer or other third-party payers have reported. If this is the case, the IRS will send correspondence either asking for more information or letting you know your tax return was adjusted and why.

Refund used to pay other debts: Sometimes you or your spouse may owe a tax debt to the IRS or a debt to other agencies, including child support or student loans. If this is the case, your refund may be offset (applied to pay that debt). You should receive an IRS notice if this occurs.

  • Follow the steps on our Refund Offset page if you have questions or disagree with the amount offset.
  • If you filed a joint tax return, you may be entitled to part or all the refund offset if your spouse is solely responsible for the debt. To request your part of the tax refund, follow the steps on our Injured Spouse page.

Lost or Stolen Refund: If one of the IRS refund tracking applications, mentioned below, indicates the IRS issued your refund, but you haven’t received it, your refund may have been lost, stolen, misplaced, or directed to a different bank account if the direct deposit numbers entered on your tax return were incorrect. So, if it appears the refund was issued, but you still haven’t received it, you can ask the IRS to do a refund trace. This is the process the IRS uses to track a lost, stolen, or misplaced refund check or to verify a financial institution received a direct deposit.

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