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Here’s when you can expect your tax refund to hit your bank account, according to the IRS
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Here’s when you can expect your tax refund to hit your bank account, according to the IRS

Most people dread filing their taxes— but nearly everyone is hoping for a refund.

The IRS was affected by the record 35-day government shutdown, though it said it would still work to process tax returns and provide refunds to filers on time. Now that the shutdown is over, at least temporarily, funding will be restored to the IRS, and its 80,000-person workforce is expected to return to work.

The IRS began accepting tax returns on Monday, January 28. If you’re expecting to get money back this year, you may be wondering exactly when you will receive your refund.

The short answer is that you’ll almost certainly receive it within three weeks of when you file your taxes. But there are ways to get it sooner.

Filing online is the quickest way to get your tax refund. Using snail mail will get the job done, but it takes more time.

For a quicker refund, the IRS suggests you e-file and request your refund via direct deposit, the chosen method for most taxpayers. The IRS says direct deposit — which the government also uses for Social Security and Veterans Affairs payments — is “simple, safe, and secure.”

If you filed electronically, you should receive a refund within 21 days. The IRS updates its system daily, usually overnight.

The traditional paper-and-pencil option means that your refund generally will arrive within six weeks of filing. If it doesn’t, an error or incompletion may be holding up the process.

Last year, about three-fourths of filers received refunds totaling about $285 billion, according to The New York Times, shaking out to an average of $2,800 per filer. But the new tax law that went into effect in 2018 could change refunds for millions of people this year.

Read more: Huge swaths of Americans should expect bigger tax refunds this year, and you can use H&R Block’s free calculator to estimate yours

According to The Times, a Treasury Department analysis provided to the Government Accountability Office estimated that compared with last year, about 4 million fewer filers would receive refunds this year, while about 4 million more filers would have a balance to pay on their taxes because of the new withholding system.

Meanwhile, a team of UBS analysts projected that most married filers with two children would see a pretty sizeable boost in their refunds for 2018 compared with 2017, especially those making under $40,000 a year and those making $125,000 to $400,000.

Taxpayers can check the status of their tax refund using the IRS’s refund-tracking service within 24 hours of filing a tax return online. To do so, you’ll need three things:

  • Your Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number.
  • Your filing status.
  • The exact refund amount.

The IRS also says the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit cannot be issued until mid-February as a means to protect against identity theft and tax fraud. Those refunds are likely to be ready as soon as February 27.

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