How to Check on the Status of an IRS Tax Return

by Mack Mitzsheva

The Internal Revenue Service collects federal tax payments from taxpayers. How much you owe will depend upon how much income you earn, your filing status, the number of dependents you have, tax credits and a host of other factors. If more taxes are withheld than you owe, the IRS will issue a refund to you. The agency has provided a straightforward way for taxpayers to check the status of an IRS tax return and refund.

1. File your tax return electronically or via mail, whichever works best for your particular situation and filing preferences.

2. Wait the the allotted time recommended by the IRS. Before checking the status of your return, the IRS recommends that for electronic filings, or e-file, you wait 72 hours before checking the status. For paper filings, wait four weeks after you filed the return before attempting to check the status.

3. Visit the IRS website at Look for "Where's My Refund," a link that will allow you to check the status of your refund. The site requires you to enter your Social Security number, filing status and the exact amount of the expected refund in order to receive the most accurate response.

4. Call the IRS directly if the "Where's My Refund" system prompts you to do so. This may occur if there's a problem or question concerning your tax return or the processing of your refund.


  • According to the IRS, you should expect to receive your refund within 10 to 21 days from the time you e-file your return. Returns submitted by mail take longer to process.
  • If you file jointly, the "Where's My Refund" system will allow you to use the Social Security number of either party to access the return information.
  • If you are unable to resolve an issue regarding your tax return and the IRS, you may contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service to assist you. This is an independent organization of the IRS that helps consumers solve IRS problems at no cost.


  • To avoid the possibility of identity theft, never check the status of your IRS return using a public computer. Use a computer that you trust as safe instead.

Items you will need

  • Social Security number
  • Filing status
  • Exact refund amount

About the Author

Mack Mitzsheva is a tax lawyer, personal finance expert and the author of the forthcoming ebook, "10 Best Places to Work Online." Mitzsheva is also a social media entrepreneur with five successful sites under her belt. Always innovative, Mitzsheva is currently developing a cutting-edge budgeting app for newlyweds.

Photo Credits

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