If you’re eager to get your hands on your tax refund, you’re not alone. Millions of people have those same “Where’s my refund?” thoughts after they file their tax returns. If you haven’t received your tax refund after at least 21 days of filing online or six weeks of mailing your paper return, go to a local IRS office or call the federal agency at 800-829-1040 (some other IRS phone numbers could get you help faster; check out our list).
Here’s a guide to tracking the status of your tax refund in 2020, plus some important things you need to know about getting a faster tax refund.
Where’s my refund? Track your IRS refund status
Click on the button to go right to the IRS’s refund tracker for federal tax refunds. You’ll need your Social Security number, filing status and your refund amount (just dollars, not cents).
Where’s my state refund? How to track the status
Find your state below to go right to its refund tracker so you can check the status of your 2020 state income tax refund.
Note: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming don’t collect income tax, so they’re not listed here. In New Hampshire and Tennessee, regular income is generally not subject to state tax, but a flat tax rate applies to dividends and interest income. If you have questions in these states, contact the department of revenue: NH, TN.
How to get a faster tax refund
- Avoid filing your tax return on paper. It’s a myth that your IRS refund status will be “pending” for a long time and that the IRS takes forever to issue a refund. In reality, you can speed up the process by avoiding paper. The IRS typically takes six to eight weeks to process paper returns. Instead, file electronically — those returns are processed in about three weeks. State tax authorities also accept electronic tax returns, which means you may be able to get your state tax refund faster, too.
- Get direct deposit. When you file your return, tell the IRS to deposit your refund directly into your bank account instead of sending a paper check. That cuts the time in waiting for the mail. You even can have the IRS split your refund across your retirement, health savings, college savings or other accounts so that you don’t fritter it away.
- Start tracking right away. Another myth is that there’s no way to tell where your refund is until you get it and you’ll be asking ‘Where’s my refund?’ for a while. Reality: You can track your IRS refund status; in fact, if you file using tax software or through a tax pro, you can start tracking your IRS refund status 24 hours after the IRS receives your return. (On mailed returns, you’ll have to wait four weeks.) You can also track the status of your state tax refund by going to your state’s revenue and taxation website.
- Don’t let things go too long. If you haven’t received your tax refund after at least 21 days of filing online or six weeks of mailing your paper return, go to a local IRS office or call the federal agency at 1-800-829-1040 (other IRS phone numbers could get you help faster; check out our list). But that won’t fast-track your refund, according to the IRS. The thing to worry about here is refund theft. It isn’t corrected quickly, so you may be in for an even longer wait.
Two more things to know about your tax refund
- It’s actually something you kind of want to avoid. It may seem great to get a big check from the government, but all a tax refund tells you is that you’ve been overpaying your taxes all year and therefore needlessly living on less of your paycheck the whole time. For example, if you got a $3,000 tax refund, you’ve been giving up $250 a month all year. Could having an extra $250 every month have helped prevent bare cupboards during the year? Forgone doctor visits? Credit-destroying overdue bills? Running up the credit card? If you want to get that money now, rather than wait for it to be refunded to you later, adjust your withholdings by giving your employer a new IRS Form W-4 (here’s how).
2. Once “Where’s my refund?” isn’t an issue and you’ve got your money, you’ll face the question of what to do with it.
- Paying down debt is a great idea. Here are some ideas on how to do it right.
- Treating yourself a little is understandable as well. Here are some smart ways to spend your tax refund.
- You also might want to make your money grow. Here are our picks for the best brokers for beginner stock investors.