How To Trace Your Tax Refund Status Online With the IRS

Find out where your tax refund is

Track Down Your IRS Refund

The Balance / Maritsa Patrinos

Filing your taxes can seem like a long process, but waiting for that tax refund can seem even longer. However, the Internal Service Revenue (IRS) offers tools to allow you to trace your refund while you wait. You can check the progress of your tax return and see an estimated date for your refund.

When you receive your refund depends on how you submitted your tax return and the payment method you selected for receiving your refund. Learn how to use the different resources available to trace your refund and find out what to do if you don’t receive your refund within the estimated time frame.

Key Takeaways

  • Tax refunds can be traced by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on the IRS website, the IRS2Go Mobile App, or by calling the IRS.
  • Refunds typically can be traced one day after they are filed online and received by the IRS, or four weeks after being mailed out.
  • If a tax refund is lost, you’ll need to call the IRS or submit documentation to get it replaced.
  • If a tax refund is late, it may accrue interest.

Using the ‘Where’s My Refund?’ Tool

The IRS offers a quick way to check the status of your tax refund on its website at Refunds can be traced by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool. You’ll need your Social Security number, filing status, and the amount of your tax refund.

Depending on how you filed and which tax year you filed, you can see an updated status in as little as one day. Those who filed online can see their status one day after they are received by the IRS for the current tax year, and three to four days after filing online for previous tax return years. Those who mailed their tax returns can check their status four weeks after submitting them in the mail, although there may not be an update for up to six months.

How To Use the IRS2Go Mobile App

The IRS2Go mobile app can also be used to track your refund, among other things. To use the app, download it from the App Store, Google Play, or Amazon. You can track the status within the same time frame, about a day after filing online or up to four weeks after submitting the return in the mail.

Other features on the app include the ability to make tax payments and free access to software that can help you to file your taxes. These features can be used in both English and Spanish.

Calling the IRS

You can also contact the IRS by phone to track your refund. The agency suggests using the hotline 21 days after filing tax online or six months after mailing a tax return. The “Where’s My Refund?” tool may also prompt users to call the number.

The hotline is automated and does not provide any other tax-year information besides the current tax year being processed. To use the automated refund hotline, call 800-829-1954 and follow the prompt.

How To Find a Lost Refund Check

If you’ve lost your check in the mail, you’ll need to contact the IRS or submit documentation to get it replaced. You can call 800-829-1954 to speak to a representative for assistance on initiating a refund trace. Those who filed jointly must fill out Form 3911 to start the process. If the check wasn’t cashed, it will simply be canceled; if it was cashed, you’ll be sent a claim package, which needs to be completed before determining if another check can be sent out.


Using direct deposit to receive your refund is not only safer but also much faster than receiving a check in the mail. More than 90% of tax filers receive their refunds in three weeks or fewer if they file online and select direct deposit as their payment method.

The IRS May Owe You if Payments Are Late or Incomplete

If your tax refund is late or has not been processed, you may be compensated in the form of interest. The amount depends on how long it takes to process the refund. Just as interest accumulates for taxes owed, it also accumulates if a refund is owed to you. The IRS has 45 days to process a tax refund before it begins to accrue interest. The interest rate applied may vary.

Accrued interest from the IRS is also subject to taxes for the following tax year. The IRS issues Form 1099-INT to those who received $10 or more in interest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it usually take to get your tax refund?

Most tax refunds are issued within three weeks after filing taxes. The IRS states that more than 90% of tax filers receive their refund in this time; however, it may take longer to process the tax return if there is an issue with it or it needs to be reviewed.

How many years back can I get a tax refund?

Taxpayers have three years to complete their taxes and receive a refund. While those who owe taxes must pay them by the April due date, those owed a refund have three years to file, although they won’t be entitled to this money after this time. The money from tax returns that are not filed within that time frame is then transferred to the U.S. Treasury.

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  1. IRS. “What To Expect for Refunds This Year.”

  2. IRS. “IRS2Go Mobile App.”

  3. IRS. “Where’s My Refund?

  4. IRS. “Frequently Asked Questions and Answers.”

  5. IRS. “Draft Tax Year 2022 1040 (and 1040-SR) Instructions.” Page 78.

  6. IRS. “Interest.”

  7. IRS. “13.9 Million Americans To Receive IRS Tax Refund Interest; Taxable Payments To Average $18.”

  8. IRS. “Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions.”

  9. IRS. “Don’t Lose Your Refund by Not Filing.”

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