If you’re expecting to get money back this year, you may be wondering exactly when you will receive your tax refund. The short answer is that you’ll almost certainly receive it within three weeks of filing your tax return, which you can do as early as January 27.

Filing online and requesting direct deposit is the quickest way to get your federal tax refund, according to the IRS, which issues 90% of refunds with 21 days. Your state refund, however, may take longer.

According to IRS data, over 111 million Americans received federal tax refunds last year, averaging $2,860 per refund. Just over 138 million taxpayers filed electronically and nearly 92 million received their refunds via direct deposit.

The IRS will deposit your refund in up to three separate bank accounts, as long as they’re held in your name as an individual account or you and your spouse’s name as a joint account.

If you file by the traditional paper-and-pencil method and request your refund as a check, it will generally arrive via snail mail within six weeks of filing. If it doesn’t, an error or incompletion may be holding up the process.

Taxpayers can check the status of their tax refund using the IRS’s refund-tracking service within 24 hours of filing a tax return online or within four weeks of mailing a paper return. The IRS updates its system daily, usually overnight.

To check your refund status, you’ll need three things:

  • Your Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number
  • Your filing status
  • The exact refund amount

For taxpayers claiming credits, refunds may take longer. The IRS says certain credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the additional Child Tax Credit, can not be issued until mid-February as a means to protect against identity theft and tax fraud. Those refunds usually become available in early March.

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