The IRS may issue your refund as quickly as 21 days after you file but some tax returns take longer to process. If you are claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit, the IRS is required to hold your entire refund until mid-February.
The IRS usually starts updating the status of your refund within 24 hours of receiving your return. If you mailed in your return, you’ll need to wait about 4 weeks to start seeing status updates.
Check your refund status online at the IRS website: Where’s My Refund?
Expecting a state refund? Learn how to track the status of your state refund.
Why is my refund taking longer than usual?
Here are a few reasons it may take longer than usual to receive your refund:
You claimed the Earned Income tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit
By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds for federal tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February. According to the IRS, the earliest taxpayers who claim these credits could see their refunds is February 27th, 2019.
The IRS provides information on this topic at Refund Timing for Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit Filers.
Direct deposit issues
If there is an issue with your direct deposit or if you entered your account information incorrectly, the IRS may eventually try to mail a check for your refund to your last address on file with the IRS. This can happen if the direct deposit is unsuccessful or if the bank returns the funds to the IRS.
Past due debts
If you have certain debts such as state tax obligations or past-due child support the IRS may use some or all of your refund to pay these debts. The Bureau of Fiscal Service will send you a letter to inform you of any amount of your refund used in this way.
More information about refund offsets is available in IRS topic number 203: Reduced Refund.
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft in the past
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft in prior years, the IRS may take extra caution to make sure they issue your refund to the correct person. The IRS may send you Letter 5071C to request additional information to verify your identity.
The IRS needs to verify your identity before issuing your refund
If the IRS suspects that someone other than you may have filed a tax return in your name, you may receive a Letter 4883C asking you to verify your identity within 30 days. The amount of time it takes the IRS to handle these cases can vary depending on the number and complexity of cases they’re currently handling.
If you received a Letter 4883C, check out the following page for more information: IRS Identity Theft Victim Assistance: How It Works.
There are many reasons you may not receive your refund. The Where’s My Refund? page from the IRS should have up to date information about the status of your refund. Make sure to respond to any notices or letters you receive from the IRS in a timely fashion to help minimize any delays. 2018 Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions is also available from the IRS for more information about how long it may take taxpayers to receive their refunds.