How Does the IRS Process Tax Returns?


After Filing your Return

  • If you e-file you will generally receive an acknowledgment that the IRS has received your return within 48 hours, either by email or within the tax-filing program you used. Seventy-two hours after the IRS has acknowledged your return you can track it on the IRS' "Where's my refund?" page. Information about the progress of your return will be available on the site. Bear in mind that you can only track returns for the current tax-filing year. Information on returns of previous years and amended returns filed with IRS form 1040X cannot be tracked on the site.

Processing Returns

  • The IRS does not guarantee when you will receive your refund check or when your refund will be deposited into your bank account. However, you can generally receive an estimated time period when you expect to get your refund from the site mentioned above. If you e-filed, you can also check within your tax-filing program, which should have a table of estimated refund receipt times based on when you filed. See a link in Resources for the current e-file refund cycle.


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