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

The IRS announced that they will automatically move the federal tax filing deadline from April 15 to May 17, giving taxpayers an additional month to file and pay 2020 income taxes.

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 12th  February 23rd  March 2nd  
February 19th  March 2nd  March 9th  
February 26th  March 9th  March 16th  
March 5th   March 16th  March 23rd  
March 12th   March 23rd  March 20th  
March 19th   March 30th  April 6th  
March 26th   April 6th  April 13th  
April 2nd   April 13th  April 20th  
April 9th   April 20th  April 27th  
April 16th   April 27th  May 4th  
April 23rd  May 4th  May 11th  
April 30th  May 11th  May 18th  
May 7th May 18th May 25th 
May 14th May 25th June 1st 
May 21st June 1st June 8th 
May 28th June 8th June 15th 

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 Monday, May 17, 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 May 17, 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. 

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