How Fast Will You Get Your Federal Tax Refund?

federal tax refund advice, federal tax refund tips, getting your federal tax refund

When will you get your hands on your federal tax refund? That’s certainly the question people due a refund are asking themselves the instant they complete their tax return. With dreams of new televisions, a vacation, or pumping up your emergency fund or IRA contribution it’s fun to think about getting a nice sum of cash back from the government. The answer is highly variable to how fast will you get your federal tax refund, but there are some things to keep in mind to help estimate.

How Did You File?

  • Electronic: If you filed your return electronically, it will be processed immediately. You’ll likely get an email within hours indicating the government has accepted your return. Good news, the clock on getting your federal tax refund has begun. Within 24 hours, you can check the status of your federal tax refund using the Where’s My Refund tool on the IRS’s website.
  • Paper: Mailing your return to the government will result in a much longer time in getting your federal tax refund. According to the IRS’s website, it may take up to 4 weeks before your refund is even tracked using the Where’s My Refund tool.

How Will Your Refund Be Delivered?

When you file your tax return, you select how you would like to receive your federal tax refund. Officially, the IRS says it will take 21 days to receive your federal tax refund and makes no distinction between the methods of delivery. However, there is likely a difference.

  • Direct Deposit: Having your federal tax refund deposited directly into your bank account is the fastest way to get your money. This will greatly speed up how fast you get your money as it can be deposited immediately once the funds have been approved.
  • Paper Check: If you chose to have your refund delivered by physical paper check, you’ll likely wait a bit longer. Once the refund has been approved, it must go through the red tape of having the check issued. After that, it will likely take a few extra days for the postal service to deliver it.


The fastest method to receive your federal tax refund is to file electronically (processed immediately), and then up to 21 days to have your refund direct deposit.

The slowest method is to mail in your return and have it take up to 4 weeks to be processed, then another 3 weeks (21 days) to have your paper check refund mailed to you.

These estimated times may be a worst-case scenario, but it’s never a good idea to depend on having your federal tax refund on a specific day.

Well, Clever Friends, have you gotten your federal tax refund yet this year? How long did it take?

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Brock Kernin

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