Everything You Need to Know About the IRS Refund Schedule

Taxes often feel like that unwelcome guest who shows up at the party and won’t leave, while tax refunds feel like the one who brings loaded nachos. ???? Getting some extra cash in your pocket can feel like hitting the jackpot, but there’s one catch — file your taxes correctly, first! Maximize your refund and be a money management pro by knowing all about the IRS refund schedule.

What Is the IRS?

The Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, helps enforce tax laws that Congress passes to ensure Americans are playing by the rules. If you’re paying your taxes when they’re due and filling out your information correctly, then the IRS doesn’t have to feel like that scary next-door neighbor that calls the cops if your music is too loud.

Statutory Authority (or the IRS’s powers and duties as told by the IRS): “We’re organized to carry out the responsibilities of the Treasury secretary per Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 7801. The IRS was created based on the secretary’s authority to administer and enforce the internal revenue laws.”

Your taxes go to both federal and local goods and services, some of the most common being health programs like Medicaid, defense and security like funding equipment for our military, paying for safety net programs low-income housing assistance and food stamps.

If you’re working full-time and filling out a W-4, then your employer is already withholding certain income taxes for you. If you have your own business, then you should have been designating a part of your income to taxes throughout the year.

If you haven’t been paying all your needed taxes, you’ll have to pay a 5% charge for the unpaid tax that you needed to report. Even worse, if you owe more than $10,000 in unpaid taxes, the government could put a lien on your property (like your house), claiming your personal assets. A state or county tax lien could even put your property up for auction.

The lesson: pay your taxes!

When to Submit Your Tax Return

Each year, the date slightly changes, but it’s typically on or around April 15. In 2023, it’s April 18. If for some reason you’re not able to reach this deadline, you can file for an extension, which could set back receiving a tax refund if you’re eligible for one.

How to Check Your Refund Return Status

  1. Use the IRS’s “Where’s My Refund?” tool.
  2. Call their toll-free number at 800-829-1954.

How Long will the IRS Take to Process My Return, and What if My Refund is Delayed?

Before the IRS actually accepts your return, they have to process it, ensuring there aren’t any errors. Most refunds, the IRS claims, are offered in less than 21 calendar days.

If you’re claiming certain credits or deductions (like a child tax credit or a charity tax deduction), it could make the process a bit longer, since there are more steps they need to check over. They might even ask you to verify certain information or ask for additional documents. The more on top of this you are, the more you’ll accelerate the process. But there are still reasons why your refund might be delayed.

1. If Taxes Due Are More Than the Refund Amount

Unfortunately, not everyone is owed a tax refund. In fact, if you’ve been underpaying your taxes, then you could owe money, which the IRS could take directly from what your refund would have been. If you try to withhold less than you need, you might think it’s saving money in the short term, but it could cause tax issues in the long term. Be overly generous when planning your taxes. Expect that they’ll take more, and you’ll likely uncover a nice surprise in your refund.

2. If There’s an Error on Your Tax Return and Your Personal Information or If You Didn’t Take Advantage of Tax Breaks

Accidents happen. If you think you might have made a mistake on your tax return, fill out Form 1040-X to amend your mistake. You might have filled information in wrong or forgot to take advantage of tax breaks like a child tax credit or a charitable donations deduction if you’ve donated to an organization. Identity theft will also make the process take a bit longer.

3. You Filed By Paper vs. Electronically

If paper filing seems clunky for you, think about the IRS workers who have to deal with it! According to the IRS website, filing through the mail could delay your up to 6 months! Save yourself (and others) a bit of a headache and file online for the fastest results.

4. You Have Debt

Say you’ve been unemployed for the past few months and have been collecting more money than you were owed. The IRS could have found this and used your tax refund to pay off the money that you owed. This also goes if you owe more federal or state income taxes than you’ve paid.

Look for a notification in the mail letting you know why your money was withheld or reach out directly to see what could be causing the delay.

Manage Your Money Right So You Have Funds With (Or Without) a Tax Refund ????

The best way to stay on top of your money? Managing your books so you never need to rely on a tax refund to pay your bills.

A trustworthy bookkeeping system, like ours at doola, will help you manage your money in and out of tax season, so you can always have the loaded nachos for your small business soiree. ????


What day of the week does IRS deposit refunds?

While there’s no real refund schedule, count 21 business days from the date you filed to estimate when you’d receive a tax refund if you’re eligible.

What is the first day the IRS will issue refunds?

It will likely be 21 business days after the first eligible date to file taxes. In 2023, that was January 23.

Is a computer refundable in IRS educational expenses?

Not if you’re using it for personal use. If you’re using it for your business or for attending a university, you are likely able to claim it as a tax credit.

Why have I been waiting three months for my tax refund?

If you’ve filed by paper, expect your tax refund to take longer than filing electronically. Also, consider if you made a mistake on your tax refund. Did you sign it, include your social security number, put in your nickname instead of your full name or get your address wrong?

How long can the IRS hold your refund for processing?

While there might not be a legal amount of time that the IRS can hold your refund, contact them through Where’s My Refund? at 800-829-1954.

doola's website is for general information purposes only and doesn't provide official law or tax advice. For tax or legal advice we are happy to connect you to a professional in our network! Please see our terms and privacy policy. Thank you and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.

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