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The Process of Getting a Tax Refund: How Long Does It Take?

Americans are understandably concerned about the process of getting a tax refund this year. (Photo: Bankrate)

Americans are understandably concerned about the process of getting a tax refund this year. After all, the IRS was swamped with millions of returns during the pandemic, and the agency recently warned taxpayers only to expect their checks by any specific date if they file in 2023.

Tax refunds are typically the largest check a household receives yearly, with last year’s payment averaging nearly $3,300. Nearly 70% of taxpayers are concerned about their refunds this year, and 1 in 5 are worried that their refund will be delayed in 2023.

While your tax forms may be lost in the ether, the IRS has provided some data and guidance on the process of getting a tax refund. Here’s what you need to know.

How long is the process of getting a tax refund?

According to the IRS, most refunds are issued in less than 21 calendar days.

How long will it take if I file my return on paper?

Paper tax forms will slow down your refund because the IRS systems aren’t designed to process them quickly.

And the IRS concurs. “If you filed on paper, processing your tax return may take six months or more,” the agency warns. In the best-case scenario, a paper tax return could result in a four-week wait for a refund.

READ ALSO: IRS: Extension to File Tax Refund Claims Now Approved

Can I monitor the status of my refund?

The IRS notes that people who have e-filed can check the status of their tax return through the “Where’s My Refund?” website 24 hours after their return was filed.

However, taxpayers who file by paper may not be able to get information from “Where’s My Refund?” until four weeks after mailing their return, according to the IRS.

What will “Where’s My Refund?” tell me?

The IRS claims that “Where’s My Refund?” will provide you with a “personalized refund date” after the agency processes your return and approves your refund.

The tracker will inform you of the process of getting a tax refund:

  • When the IRS receives your return, the agency processes your tax forms.
  • When the refund is approved, the IRS is preparing to deposit your refund into your bank account or mail you a check.
  • When the refund is issued.

The IRS has experienced numerous delays. What about this coming year?

The IRS began the tax season with a backlog of approximately 10 million tax returns, but the agency has been hiring more staff to help work through that backlog while also dealing with this year’s filing season.

To be sure, this does not guarantee a successful tax return. Errors or other issues can cause tax returns to be flagged for review by an agent, delaying your return — and your refund.

READ ALSO: Poll: How Do You Plan To Spend Your Tax Refunds In 2023?

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