January 12, 2020

IRS Refund Schedule

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The stress of tax season comes with one possible reward: a refund. When can you expect your tax refund? Find the answer to this and other 2020 IRS tax questions in our guide.

Every year, millions of Americans have too much money withheld from their paycheck. That means they'll be due for a refund after filing their taxes. While schedules vary, we've estimated how long you'll likely have to wait for your tax refund.

2020 Estimated Tax Refund Schedule

The IRS does not guarantee any specific dates for tax refunds, though most taxpayers will get their tax refunds within 21 days.

Using the 21-day guidelines, you can estimate when you will receive your tax refund, starting on Jan. 27 when the 2020 tax season begins.

The following table offers a possible time frame based on previous years, NOT actual dates supplied by the IRS.

Filing DateRefund Date: E-File and Direct DepositRefund Date: E-File and Mail ReturnRefund Date: Paper File and Direct DepositRefund Date: Paper File and Mail Return
Jan. 27Feb. 17March 2March 16March 30
Feb. 15March 7March 21April 4April 18
March 1March 22April 5April 19May 3
March 15April 5April 19May 3May 17
April 1April 22May 6May 20June 3
April 15May 6May 20June 3June 17

Is there any way to speed up your 2020 refund?
Unfortunately, there is no way to get your tax refund faster, according to the IRS. You stand the best chance of a quick return by e-filing and choosing the direct deposit option.

When Should I Expect My Refund?

While most people receive their refunds within 21 days of filing their tax returns, many will get their 2020 return back in 10–14 days.

Several factors affect how long your refund will take, including the way you file your taxes. Taxpayers can file electronically using tax software to expedite their refund.

You can get your refund within a matter of days—if you pick the right option to receive your refund. Paper checks take longer to process and get mailed than direct deposit.

Is the IRS Holding Refunds for 2020?

One of the biggest changes to your tax filings this year will when you receive your return.

In 2019, the U.S. Congress passed a new law that requires the IRS to hold all tax refunds until Feb. 15, 2020, no matter when you file your taxes.

That means that filing your taxes early does not mean you will get your refund as quickly as expected. If you get your W-2 in the mail at the start of January and file your return months ahead of the April 15 deadline, you can still expect to wait over a month to see your full federal refund.

In 2019, the IRS said early filers and e-filers could expect to see their refunds even later—by Feb. 22, 2019, nearly 10 days after that initial deadline.

Officials hope that this deadline gives the IRS more time to reduce fraud and make sure no duplicate returns are filed.

Check Your Filing Status and Refund Status

There are a couple ways to check your filing and refund status even prior to April 15. The IRS does NOT recommend calling.

Instead you can use:

  • IRS Website
    The best way to check your refund status is through the "Where's My Refund?"IRS online tool. It tells you when the IRS received your tax return, when it was processed, and when you will get your tax refund.

    You can check the status of your refund 24 hours online after e-filing.

  • Mobile App
    With the IRS app, IRS2Go, taxpayers can check the status of their refund, make a payment, find free tax preparation assistance, sign up for tax tips, and more.

These tools are great for estimations, but the date you receive isn't set in stone. The IRS wait times can fluctuate and change, depending on a number of factors.

When should you follow up on your return?
Follow up with the IRS in these situations:
  • You filed your return more than 21 days ago with no response.
  • You mailed your return more than 6 weeks ago with no response.
  • The "Where's My Refund" tool tells you to contact the IRS.

Why Would My Return Be Delayed?

Your tax return may be delayed for a number of reasons. Those reasons include:

  • Errors on your tax return

  • An incomplete tax return

  • Identity theft or fraud

  • A return that included the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit

Returns claiming an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) will not be issued before mid-February, thanks to a new law. Expect to get your refund from the IRS by the first week of March on your debit card or bank account—assuming there are no other issues with your refund.

  • A claim that includes an Injured Spouse Allocation form (Form 8379). These tax forms may take an additional 14 weeks to process.

  • A return that needs further review by the IRS.

In addition, make sure to check with your financial institution to determine how long it will take them to process and deposit the tax return.

When Can You File Your Tax Return?

You can e-file or mail in your taxes as soon as you have the required paperwork, including the W-2 form from your employer.

Your W-2 must be e-filed and postmarked from your employer by January 31, 2020. However, many employees receive their W-2 forms much sooner to meet the April 15 deadline.

Many people like to complete their returns manually or through tax software like TurboTax. But remember: Getting started on your taxes early won't lead to a faster tax refund, thanks to the new law.

When is the tax filing deadline for 2020?
Tax day is April 15, 2020, in the U.S. This means that every U.S. citizen will have to e-file their taxes with the IRS or submit a paper return postmarked by midnight of that day. If you want to file an extension, you can push your tax return back to October 15, 2020.

What Do You Need to File Your Taxes?

Before you file your returns on April 15, you'll need the following information and documents:

  • Personal info, including your Social Security number and address

  • A paper or electronic copy of your W-2, or Tax and Wage Statement from every employer during the 2019 tax year

  • 1099 tax forms for any freelance work during the 2019 year

  • Any other related tax documents, like investment tax forms, bank statements, etc.

Once you have these basics, you are ready to file your tax returns and get your refund.

What is the last day to contribute to your IRA?
April 15, 2020, is also the final day to make your tax contributions to your traditional and Roth IRAs for the tax year. However, if you file an extension, you can wait to put your money into your IRA until that date in October 2020.

What If I Can't Pay My Taxes?

If you can't pay your taxes, you should still file your return on time as usual. Pay as much as you can to avoid added fees and penalties, and then contact the IRS to discuss payment options at (800) 829-1040.

There are several plans to help, like installment options, a short-term extension to pay, and more. The IRS can waive some fees, but not interest fees, which will accrue.

Tax Relief If You Owe Money

If you owe money to the government, there are several external agencies and companies that help. Check out some of these options:

  • Anthem Tax Services
    Tax recommendations and help for people with several thousands of dollars in debt, with tax specialists and a money-back guarantee.

  • Optima Tax Relief
    One of the largest tax relief companies, where tax experts help people with more than $10,000 in debt.

  • Victory Tax Lawyers
    This law firm only employs lawyers and specializes in tax controversy, litigation, and resolution.

Bottom Line

Taxpayers will typically see their refund within 21 days or sooner. But filing your tax return early won't guarantee an earlier refund. You can check your filing status and the status of your exact refund online.

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