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Here’s how taxpayers can track the status of their refund

Tracking the status of a tax refund is easy with the Where’s My Refund? tool. It’s conveniently accessible at IRS.gov or through the IRS2Go App.

Taxpayers can start checking their refund status within 24 hours after an e-filed return is received.

Refund timing
Where’s My Refund provides a personalized date after the return is processed and a refund is approved. While most tax refunds are issued within 21 days, some may take longer if the return requires additional review.

Here are some reasons a tax refund may take longer:

  • The return may include errors or be incomplete.
  • The return could be affected by identity theft or fraud.
  • Many banks do not process payments on weekends or holidays.

Claiming the recovery rebate credit on a 2020 tax return will not delay processing of a tax return. However, it is important that taxpayers claim the correct amount. If a correction is needed, there may be a slight delay in processing the return. If corrections are made, the IRS will send the taxpayer notice explaining any changes. The recovery rebate credit will be included in the tax refund.

The IRS will contact taxpayers by mail if more information is needed to process their tax return.

Fast and easy refund updates
Taxpayers can start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an electronically filed return or four weeks after the taxpayer mails a paper return. The tool’s tracker displays progress in three phases:

  1. Return received
  2. Refund approved
  3. Refund sent

To use Where’s My Refund, taxpayers must enter their Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, their filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of their refund. The IRS updates the tool once a day, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check more often.

Calling the IRS won’t speed up a tax refund. The information available on Where’s My Refund? is the same information available to IRS phone assistors.

Important Information on Unreceived Stimulus Payments: For Non-Filers and Those Eligible

As we move into the 2020 tax filing season, I know that there are many questions related to missing or partially received Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), also known as stimulus payments. If you were eligible and did not receive an Economic Impact Payment – or you were issued less than the full amount – then you are encouraged to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) by filing your Form 1040 or 1040-SR.

To determine if you are eligible for a Recovery Rebate Credit, CLICK HERE.

It is important to note that while Economic Impact Payments were based-off of your 2018 or 2019 tax filings, the Recovery Rebate Credit is based-off of your 2020 tax filing – eligibility and amount. Moreover, you must file a 2020 tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, even if you are not required to file taxes because of your age, income, or filing status, also known as a non-filer.

You may find a full list of frequently asked questions related to the Recovery Rebate Credit for non-filers HERE.

To determine the amount of your Recovery Rebate Credit, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has provided a Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet found in the 1040 and 1040-SR instructions – page 59.

You can find the Form 1040 and 1040-SR Instructions HERE.

The quickest way to receive the Recovery Rebate Credit is to file your taxes electronically and have your refund direct deposited into your financial account.

For further information on the Recovery Rebate Credit please visit IRS.gov/RRC.

Many taxpayers can file their state and federal returns for free

As taxpayers get ready to file their federal tax returns, most will also be thinking about preparing their state taxes. There’s some good news for filers wanting to save money. Eligible taxpayers can file their federal and, in many cases, their state taxes at no cost.

Taxpayers whose adjusted gross income was $72,000 or less in 2019 can file their 2020 federal taxes for free using IRS Free File. Many of them can also do their state taxes at no charge. They do so through Free File offered by the IRS.

Here’s are a few things for taxpayers to know about filing state tax returns through Free File.

  • Most people make less than the $72,000 income limit. So, most people can use Free File.
  • Generally, taxpayers must complete their federal tax return before they can begin their state taxes.
  • More than 20 states have a state Free File program patterned after the federal partnership. This means many taxpayers are eligible for free federal and free state online tax preparation.
  • The states with a Free File program are Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia, plus the District of Columbia.
  • IRS Free File partners feature online products, some in Spanish. They offer most or some state tax returns for free as well. Some of them may charge so it’s important for taxpayers to explore their free options.
  • Free File partners will charge a fee for state tax return preparation unless their offer says upfront the taxpayer can file both federal and state returns for free. Taxpayers who want to use one of the state Free File program products should go to their state tax agency’s Free File page.
  • Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming don’t have an income tax. So, IRS Free File for a federal return may be the only tax product people in those states need.

2021 tax filing season set to begin February 12

The IRS will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns on Friday, Feb.12, 2021.

People who are ready to file can begin filing their tax returns with tax prep software, including IRS Free File. Software providers are accepting completed tax returns now and holding them until the IRS begins processing returns on Friday, Feb.12. The quickest way for taxpayers to get a tax refund is by filing electronically and choosing direct deposit for their refund.

Most earned income tax credit or advanced child tax credit related refunds should be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards by the first week of March, if they choose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return.

By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds before mid-February for tax returns that claim the earned income tax credit or ACTC. The IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC. This helps ensure taxpayers receive the refund they deserve and gives the agency more time to detect and prevent errors and fraud.

To make filing easier, taxpayers should:

  • File electronically and use direct deposit for the quickest refunds.
  • Check IRS.gov for the latest tax information. There is no need to call the IRS.

Those who may have been eligible for stimulus payments should carefully review their eligibility for the recovery rebate credit. Most people received Economic Impact Payments automatically and those who received the maximum amount don’t need to include any information about their payments when they file.

They received the full amounts of both Economic Impact Payments if:

  • Their first Economic Impact Payment was $1,200 for individuals; $2,400 married filing jointly for 2020, plus $500 for each qualifying child born in 2020.
  • Their second Economic Impact Payment was $600 for individuals; $1,200 married filing jointly for 2020, plus $600 for each qualifying child born in 2020.

People who didn’t receive the payments or only received partial payments may be eligible to claim the recovery rebate credit when they file their 2020 tax return, even if they are normally not required to file a tax return. Tax preparation software, including IRS Free File, will help taxpayers figure the amount.

Taxpayers should remember that stimulus payments they received are not taxable, and don’t reduce the amount of their refund.

Important filing season dates

Friday, Feb. 12. IRS begins 2021 tax season. Individual tax returns start being accepted, and processing begins.
Thursday, April 15. Due date for filing 2020 tax returns or requesting extension of time to file.
Thursday, April 15. Due date for paying 2020 tax owed to avoid owing interest and penalties.
Friday, Oct. 15. Due date to file for those requesting an extension on their 2020 tax returns.

Millions of taxpayers will receive their second Economic Impact Payments by debit card

The Treasury Department and the IRS are issuing millions of second Economic Impact Payments by prepaid debit card to speed delivery of the payments to as many people as possible.

If the Get My Payment tool on IRS.gov shows a date that a recipient’s payment was mailed, they should watch their mail for either a paper check or debit card. The debit cards arrive in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal.

The prepaid debit card, called the Economic Impact Payment card, is issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank®, N.A. The IRS does not determine who receives a card.


The form of payment for the second mailed EIP may be different than the first mailed EIP. Some people who received a paper check last time might receive a prepaid debit card this time, and some people who received a prepaid debit card last time may receive a paper check.

EIP Cards are safe, convenient and secure
These cards provide certain protections against fraud, loss and other errors. They can be used to make purchases online or in stores anywhere Visa® Debit Cards are accepted.

Cardholders can also use the cards to do any of the following without paying a fee:

  • Transfer funds to a personal bank account
  • Make signature or PIN-debit purchases anywhere Visa Debit
  • Cards are accepted — in stores, online or over the phone
  • Get cash back with a PIN debit purchase where available
  • Get cash from in-network ATMs
  • Get a replacement EIP Card, if needed
  • Check their card balance online, through a mobile app or by phone

People should watch their mail carefully
EIP Cards are being sent in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal. The envelope also states “Not a bill or an advertisement. Important information about your Economic Impact Payment.” The EIP Card has the Visa name on the front of the card and the issuing bank name, MetaBank®, N.A. on the back. Each mailing will include instructions on how to securely activate and use the EIP Card. These cards are being issued to eligible recipients across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Residents of the western United States are generally more likely to receive an EIP Card.

People can check the status of their payment using the Get My Payment tool on IRS.gov.

New things you should consider as you get ready to file taxes in 2021

When you get ready to file your federal tax return there are new things to consider when it comes to which credits to claim and what deductions to take. These things can affect the size of any refund you may receive.

Here are some new key things you should consider when filing your 2020 tax return.

Recovery rebate credit
You may be able to claim the recovery rebate credit if you met the eligibility requirements in 2020 and one of the following applies to you:
•  You didn’t receive an Economic Impact Payment in 2020.
•  You are single and your payment was less than $1,200.
•  You are married, filed jointly for 2018 or 2019 and your payment was less than $2,400.
•  You didn’t receive $500 for each qualifying child.

Refund interest payment
People who received a federal tax refund in 2020 may have been paid interest. The IRS sent interest payments to individual taxpayers who timely filed their 2019 federal income tax returns and received refunds. Most interest payments were received separately from tax refunds. Interest payments are taxable and must be reported on 2020 federal income tax returns. In January 2021, the IRS will send a Form 1099-INT, Interest Income, to anyone who received interest of at least $10.

New charitable deduction allowance
New this year, taxpayers who don’t itemize deductions can take a charitable deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions made in 2020 to qualifying organizations. For more information, you should review Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

Other refund-related reminders
   •  Taxpayers shouldn’t rely on receiving a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying bills. Some tax returns may require additional review and processing may take longer.
•  Refunds for taxpayers claiming the earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit can’t be issued before mid-February. This applies to the entire refund, not just the portion associated with this credit.
•  Taxpayers can track the status of their refund using the Where’s My Refund? tool.

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