Skip to main content

How Long Does It Take to Get a Tax Refund?

Image used with permission by copyright holder

You’ve filed your tax returns and found out you’ll be getting money back from the government this year. However, you won’t see that money right away, even if you filed electronically. Several factors affect how soon (or late) you’ll receive your tax refund. For instance, the quickest way to get your refund is to e-file and choose direct deposit, but you could still experience delays if there are errors in your return or you elected to file too close to the May 17 tax deadline.

As tempting as it is to refresh your banking app every hour until that sweet refund money magically appears, it’s far from the most productive thing you could do with your time. Instead, check out the schedule below to see when you should expect to get a tax refund — and find out what could be holding it up.

2021 Tax Refund Schedule

E-File With Direct Deposit: 1-3 Weeks

This is the quickest way to get your tax refund. If you file online and have direct deposit set up, you could have your refund in as little as a week. At the most, it’ll take up to three weeks for your refund to arrive in your bank account.

E-File With Paper Check: 1 Month

Filing online doesn’t mean you’ll automatically receive a tax refund by direct deposit. You can opt to have a paper refund check sent to you instead. However, it could take about a month after your return is processed for the IRS to cut you a check.

Paper File With Direct Deposit: 3 Weeks

It’ll take some time for your tax return to reach the IRS if you file by mail, especially in light of the pandemic. Once your paper return is accepted and processed, your tax refund should be directly deposited into your bank account within 21 days.

Paper File With Paper Check: 2 Months

This method is not recommended as it’s the most time-consuming, but there may be circumstances when doing everything on paper is necessary. (For instance, maybe you have to prepare a return for someone who passed away last year.) In this case, expect to have a refund check in your hands in two months.

Where Is My Tax Refund?

You can check the status of your tax refund through the IRS Where’s My Refund? tracker 24 hours after e-filing or four weeks after sending a paper return. If it’s been more than 21 days since your return was accepted and you haven’t gotten your tax refund, contact the IRS.

The IRS is processing mailed-in tax returns in the order in which they’re received. Due to COVID-19, paper tax returns may take longer to process than usual, which in turn could affect the timing of your tax refund.

Filing early or late may hold up your tax refund since these are generally high-volume times for the IRS. The closer you file to the May 17 tax deadline, the more your refund could be delayed.

Errors in your tax return — whether you filed electronically or by mail — can also delay your tax refund. Should that be the case, the IRS will contact you by mail and request more information.

Editors' Recommendations

Alison Barretta
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Alison is a freelance writer and editor from Philadelphia who specializes in skincare & beauty, lifestyle, and general…
Ultimate relaxation: This massage chair is $3,700 off until tomorrow
A woman sitting in the Sharper Image Revival Zero Gravity Massage Chair.

Relaxing at home is a much-underrated activity for many of us. That's why we had to highlight one of Best Buy's deals of the day which has a Sharper Image Revival Zero Gravity Massage Chair down to $1,799. It usually costs $5,499 so you're saving a spectacular $3,700 off the regular price. Whether you've had a long day at work or you've just got back from a hectic session at the gym, you need a great massage chair to relax into. Here's what we know about it while you decide whether to hit the buy button or not. Remember -- you've only got until the end of today to do so.

Why you should buy the Sharper Image Revival Zero Gravity Massage Chair
Arriving with no assembly required, the Sharper Image Revival Zero Gravity Massage Chair is far better than any of the best massage guns you may have been considering for your post-workout recovery. It offers the most beneficial position for you to sit with the least amount of pressure on your spine.

Read more
These are the 13 best Brad Pitt movies, ranked
Does your favorite Brad Pitt movie make the list?
Brad Pitt staring across the table

If you were to look up the word "superstar" in the dictionary, it wouldn't be surprising if Brad Pitt's visage was strewn across the page. When you hear his name, it’s hard not to think of his chiseled abs, effortless charm, and distinctively beautiful face. Many may even immediately think of all the media surrounding his romantic entanglements with Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston, but we’re definitely not here to talk about that.

Today, we are here to talk about the many strides Brad Pitt has made in his film career; from war movies to heist comedies, he's taken his physical beauty and made the most of it. While he may not have the reputation of Tom Hanks or Al Pacino, Pitt has become a great performer in his own right. In addition to his prolific acting career, Pitt is also a producer with more than 60 credits to his name. Clearly, there is much more to him than just what meets the eye, which is part of what makes him such a compelling screen presence.

Read more
Is ‘Family Guy’ on Disney Plus in 2023?
Get the scoop on streaming 'Family Guy'
The Disney Plus sign-up menu is displayed

Whether you can watch Family Guy online via Disney Plus depends on what part of the world you call home. Simply put, Family Guy is available on Disney Plus in some areas, but not all. Why? Well, not all streaming services possess the rights to the popular animated comedy, but that's all changing as we speak.

In short, Family Guy is only available on Disney Plus if you live in one of the countries where Star is included in your Disney Plus subscription. That means countries like the U.K., Australia, and Canada have Family Guy on Disney Plus, but the U.S. misses out.

Read more