When Will I Receive My Federal Income Tax Check?

by Alia Nikolakopulos, studioD

You have several options for filing and receiving refunds on current year federal returns. If you're due a federal tax refund, the length of time you'll have to wait to receive your money depends on the method you used to file your return and the method you chose to receive your funds. If you're receiving a refund from a prior year or amended return, expect to wait between 8 and 12 weeks before receiving your refund from the Internal Revenue Service.

Paper Filing -- Paper Check

Filing a paper return and receiving a paper check is the slowest method of return processing. With this method, you will prepare your return and mail it to the IRS. The IRS takes three to four weeks to process your paper return and issue a refund. When using this method, expect to receive your refund check approximately six weeks after you mail the return.

Paper Filing -- Direct Deposit

If you file your return on paper and elect to receive your refund by direct deposit, expect to receive your refund within three to five weeks. The IRS will take three to four weeks to process your return before depositing your refund into your bank account. The IRS only issues direct deposit refunds on Fridays, so your refund date will depend on the day your paper return is processed.

Electronic Filing -- Paper Check

Filing electronically and electing to have a paper check mailed to you is a quicker method of receiving your refund. Generally, the IRS accepts and processes electronic returns within 72 hours. You should receive your paper check two to three weeks after your electronic return is processed.

Electronic Filing -- Direct Deposit

The quickest way to receive your federal tax refund is to file electronically and request direct deposit. Most taxpayers using this method receive refunds within 9 to 14 days, depending on the date the return is accepted by the IRS.

E-File Requirement

As of 2011, most paid tax preparers must file client returns electronically. If you pay for tax preparation service, expect to receive your refund in the time frames discussed for electronic filing. Be wary of Refund Anticipation Loans advertised by tax preparation businesses. The business can advance you all or a portion of your refund as a loan. Your refund is then directed to the company's bank account as repayment. You can receive RAL funds in a few days, but you'll also be charged high fees for using the service. Most RALs are disbursed only a couple of days before you would normally receive your full direct deposit refund.

About the Author

With a background in taxation and financial consulting, Alia Nikolakopulos has over a decade of experience resolving tax and finance issues. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent and has been a writer for these topics since 2010. Nikolakopulos is pursuing Bachelor of Science in accounting at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.

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