2021 Refund Schedule: How Long Do I Have to Wait Until I Get My Tax Refund?

For tax year 2019 (taxes filed in 2020) the IRS started accepting returns on January 27th, 2020. We’ve based these timelines on historical data noting that most refunds will be issued by the IRS in less than 21 days after the return has been accepted. Certain things can affect the timing of your refund, including: 

  • How you sent your return – Sending your return electronically allows the IRS to process it faster than if you mail it in.  
  • When you filed – The earlier you file, the earlier your return could be processed.  
  • Which credits you claimed – Claiming certain credits can cause your refund to be delayed (more details below). 

What is the IRS refund schedule? 

The IRS typically sends out refunds on a schedule. This schedule varies by the method you sent your return in, when you file, and what credits you claim. See an estimated schedule in the chart below. 

Filing method and refund delivery methodHow long it takes to receive your refund from the time your return is accepted 
E-file and direct deposit1-3 weeks 
E-file and check 1 month 
Mail in return and direct deposit 3 weeks 
Mail in return and check 2 months  

When will I receive my tax refund? 

The following chart includes estimated dates you could receive your refund for the 2021 tax season if you have submitted everything correctly and are not claiming any tax breaks that could cause a delay. 

If the IRS accepts your return by:  Direct deposit could be sent as early as:  Or your check could be mailed as early as:  
February 1st February 12th February 19th 
February 8th February 19th February 26th 
February 15th February 26th March 5th 
February 22nd March 5th March 12th 
March 1st March 12th  March 19th  
March 8th  March 19th  March 26th  
March 15th  March 26th  April 2nd  
March 22nd  April 2nd  April 9th  
March 29th  April 9th  April 16th  
April 5th  April 6th  April 23rd  
April 12th  April 23rd  April 30th  
April 19th  April 30th  May 7th  
April 26th May 7th May 14th 

Please note that the IRS issues your tax refund – not TaxSlayer or any other filing service. This means that your filing service can’t say for sure when you’ll get your refund. But you can use the IRS’s Where’s My Refund tool to see exactly where your refund is. 

What happens after I e-file? 

After you submit your return with TaxSlayer, we time stamp your return and electronically send it to the IRS. Your return is now in the hands of the IRS. They typically take the next 24-48 to review your information to make sure it is correct. If your personal information matches their records and you haven’t taken any credits or deductions that require further review, they will accept your return. You should receive an email notification once your return is accepted. After you receive confirmation, you can expect to receive your refund based on the estimated schedule above. 

What does it mean when my tax return is accepted? 

When you receive confirmation that the IRS accepted your return, it means that they have reviewed your return, and it has passed their initial inspection. They verify your personal information and other basic items, like if your dependents have already been claimed by someone else. Then they have a few days to approve your refund. They will take a more in-depth look at your return and your history. After the IRS approves your return, they will fund your refund based on the schedule mentioned above.

Is it faster to file electronically or mail in my return? 

In most cases it is faster to file your return electronically. The IRS receives these returns faster than ones that were mailed in, which shortens the time in between when you submitted your return and when you’ll receive your refund.  

File electronically with TaxSlayer and choose direct deposit to receive your refund sooner.

For more info about the advantages of electronic tax filingread 5 Reasons Why You Should File Your Taxes Online.  

What tax breaks can affect the timing of my refund?  

If you are claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit, your refund is most likely going to be delayed. The IRS does not typically send out these refunds before mid-February, which means your refund will probably arrive in early March according to the IRS. 

Should I file my taxes early? 

Filing your tax return early can present many advantages to help you during the tax season. These include reducing stress, having more time to pay if you owe money on your taxes and (of course) getting your refund sooner. 

What if I miss the deadline? 

Taxes are due on Thursday, April 15, 2021. If you file your return after the deadline, you could be charged late filing fees and other penalties. The good news is, if you need more time to file you can request an extension with the IRS. It is important to note that an extension does not give you more time to pay your taxes. It only gives you more time to file your return. In other words, if you owe money on your taxes, your payment is still due by April 15th. If you request an extension, will have six more months to send your return to the IRS. The deadline to submit extensions for tax year 2020 is October 15, 2021. 

Are there any important tax dates to know? 

Yes, the following dates are important to keep in mind for tax season. 

  • Deadline to file and pay your tax bill if you have one is April 15, 2021 
  • Deadline to file an extended return is October 15, 2021

 Click here for a more complete list of important tax dates. 

The information in this article is current through tax year 2020.