How Long Does It Take for a Tax Refund to Show Up in Your Bank Account?

You got your tax return filed, and if you’re expecting a refund, you may be wondering just how long it could take before you can use it as you’d planned.

We’ve got news: there’s a general timeline for when that money may be yours, as well as a few tools you can use to track its progress.

How long it takes the IRS to process your return

The IRS says it expects to issue most refunds in less than 21 days in 2019. But this is a best-case scenario. A few things could impact this timeline, including: 

  • Errors on your tax return
  • The tax return was incomplete
  • You are a victim of fraud or identity theft
  • Your claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit
  • An Injured Spouse Allocation (Form 8379 was part of your return, which could take up to 14 weeks to process

How long it takes for your refund to arrive

The 21-days-until-refund estimate is just one part of your refund timeline. How long it takes for your money to reach you or your bank account depends on whether you ask the IRS to use direct deposit for your refund or if you ask them to mail you a check.

If you choose direct deposit (which the IRS says is the fastest way to receive your money), it may take several business days to show up in your bank account after your refund’s been approved. The IRS asks you to wait five days after it’s been sent before calling to check the status of your refund. 

If you ask for a check, the IRS says it could take a few weeks to process your refund.

How to track your refund

The IRS has two tools that help you track your refund and your return: the web tool, “Where’s My Refund?,” and the app, IRS2GO. 

If you e-filed, you can start tracking your refund’s status 24 hours after the IRS has received your return. If you submitted a paper return, you can plan on being able to use these trackers about 4 weeks after you drop it in the mail. 

Information you’ll need to use these trackers: 

  • Social Security number or ITIN
  • Your filing status
  • Your exact refund amount

When to call for an update

If it’s been more than 21 days since you e-filed or six weeks or more since you mailed your tax return, or “Where’s My Refund” prompts you to, you may want to contact the IRS for more information.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs®, but may not reflect the institutional opinions of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.