When Will I Get My Tax Refund? IRS Tax Refund Calendar 2021

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When will I get my tax refund is an oft-asked question in tax season. Here’s how to use the IRS tax refund tracker to learn the answer to where’s my refund.

If you’re anticipating a tax refund for the 2020 tax year, you likely have the same question many early filers do – “where’s my refund?”. Like it or not, tax season is upon us. Thanks to e-file choices, the answer to “when will I get my tax refund?” is easier than ever.

Filing taxes wasn’t always as simple. Everything was done by paper, and you had to wait weeks, if not months. Per the IRS, they issue most refunds within 21 days if you file electronically. That’s not too shabby.

Regardless if you plan to file early, which will open around February 12, 2021, or file later in the season, it’s usually exciting to receive money back. If you’re asking yourself, “when can I expect my tax refund?” this guide is for you.

Are you planning on filing your taxes early? H&R Block is our choice for the best full-service tax platform. They consistently offer better prices than TurboTax, and if you have a simple return, you can file your Federal Return for free.

When Will I Get My Tax Refund?


How soon you receive your refund largely depends on how you file your taxes. There is no guarantee, though the IRS states that they process most refunds within 21 days.

Most tax software programs allow you to file at any time but won’t submit them until the IRS begins to process eFile returns.

If you use e-file and have an uncomplicated return, it’s suitable to expect your return within a few weeks after February, 2021. If you use the free IRS e-file option, and choose direct deposit though, you could potentially get your return in roughly ten days.

However, if you mail in your taxes, you want to expect at least an additional eight weeks, if not longer. Additionally, if you have a more complicated tax situation, your refund may take longer than the typical 21-day period.

If you’re anxious about receiving your funds, it’s best to mark on your calendar when you filed your taxes to help quell your anxiety.

If you e-filed your taxes more than 21 days ago, you can verify the status directly on the IRS site.

How Soon Can I File My Taxes?


Many ask themselves, “how soon can I file my taxes?” and believe they can file when they have all of their tax documentation. And, they’re correct. Technically, it’s possible to file when you have all of your tax documents.

That doesn’t mean the IRS will immediately process your return, as they won’t officially accept returns until around February 12, 21 for the 2020 tax year.

There are several important dates to remember before filing your taxes. Those are:

  • Employers have until January 31 to send you W-2s for 2020 earnings
  • Clients have until January 31 to send you 1099s for 2020 freelance earnings
  • Brokerages have until February 15 to send you 1099-Bs for proceeds from stock sales or dividends

You may require other tax documents to file your taxes. It’s best to consult with a tax professional to determine what those are for your situation.

Once you have all your necessary tax documents, you can file your taxes.

2021 IRS Refund Schedule Chart


You want to consult the IRS tax refund schedule to learn when you can anticipate receiving your funds. The below IRS refund dates are estimates based on what the IRS has made available thus far.

However, if you have a straightforward return, it’s safe to assume the dates are trustworthy.

Do you want to know when to expect my tax refund? Here you go!

Tax Refund 2021 Calendar
Date You File TaxesWhen to Expect Direct DepositWhen to Expect Paper Check
Feb 12 - Feb 13, 2021Feb. 26, 2021Mar. 5, 2021
Feb 14 - Feb 20, 2021Mar. 5, 2021Mar. 12, 2021
Feb 21 - Feb 27, 2021Mar. 12, 2021Mar. 19, 2021
Feb 28 - Mar 6, 2021Mar. 19, 2021Mar. 26, 2021
Mar 7 - Mar 13, 2021Mar. 26, 2021Apr. 2, 2021
Mar 14 - Mar 20, 2021Apr. 2, 2021Apr. 9, 2021
Mar 21 - Mar 27, 2021Apr. 9, 2021Apr. 16, 2021
Mar 28 - Apr 3, 2021Apr. 16, 2021Apr. 23, 2021
Apr 4 - Apr 10, 2021Apr. 23, 2021Apr. 30, 2021
Apr 11 - Apr 17, 2021Apr. 30, 2021May 7, 2021
Apr 18 - Apr 24, 2021May 7, 2021May 14, 2021
Apr 25 - May 1, 2021May 14, 2021May 21, 2021
May 2 - May 8, 2021May 21, 2021May 28, 2021
May 9 - May 15, 2021May 28, 2021Jun. 4, 2021
May 16 - May 22, 2021Jun. 4, 2021Jun. 11, 2021
May 23 - May 29, 2001Jun. 11, 2021Jun. 18, 2021

It’s best to allow several days after the 21-day window before contacting the IRS to learn the status of your tax refund. Per the IRS website, they have long wait times via their phone number.

However, if you wish to contact them, you can reach the IRS at 800-829-1040.

If you want to know your refund status, it’s best to use the Get Refund Status on the IRS website. You will need to provide several pieces of information to learn your IRS refund status.

That information is:

  • Your Social Security Number
  • Tax filing status
  • Your refund amount

It’s crucial to provide the correct information, and the refund amount listed on your return. If any of the above three pieces of information you provide doesn’t match what the IRS has on file, you will receive an error message.

Don’t fret if you receive an error as you can access the information as often as you wish. Upon providing the correct information, the tracking tool will provide the status as well as the anticipated direct deposit dates of all refunds.

Save Your Refund


Saving your refund is often the best way to use it is to save it. You can use one of the below accounts to put it to the best use.

Coronavirus Delays and Date Changes


You may remember that the deadline was extended to July 15 for the 2019 tax year. This was due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re not anticipating to see this for the 2020 tax year.

While the April 15 tax deadline is in place this year, it’s realistic to expect that there will be delays in processing of returns. Many IRS employees will be working from home, thus causing delays – especially if you file by mail.

If at all possible, use eFile when filing your taxes. Filing them by mail will cause delays as each step of the process will take additional time.

If you have already filed your return, it’s feasible to expect a delay. If your return requires special attention or additional information is necessary, this will likely cause further delays.

Additional Delays


In addition to delays tied to COVID-19, early filers should expect additional delays in processing. Congress passed tax law changes late in December that will impact early filers.

The primary laws changed impact the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). Any refund that includes those will be held until February 15, 2021.

Preventing fraud is the main reason for the delay as the IRS wants to avoid processing duplicate returns.

2020 Tax Year FAQs


Preparing your taxes is often stressful. Below are several common tax questions many ask, along with answers.

When is the deadline to file taxes for 2020?

The deadline to file taxes for the 2020 tax year is April 15, 2021. If you’re choosing e-file, your taxes must be submitted by April 15 at the latest.

If you’re mailing a paper copy, they need a stamp date of April 15, 2021.

What happens if I don’t pay my taxes?

It’s tempting to avoid filing your taxes, particularly if you owe the IRS. It’s expensive to make this mistake.

The IRS charges a late fee of up to 25 percent of the unpaid tax. If you’re more than 60 days late, they charge additional fees.

If missing the deadline is a legitimate concern, apply for an extension as that gives you until October 15, 2021, to file.

Here’s the IRS link to file for an extension.

What’s the fastest way to get my refund?

Are you expecting to receive money back from the IRS? You may want to know the fastest way to get a tax refund.

Using e-file is the fastest way to receive your refund as most returns using e-file process within 21 days of receipt. Additionally, request a direct deposit of your refund to ensure the prompt arrival of the funds.

It’s appropriate to use the IRS tax refund tracker after that time to learn when you will receive your refund.

You can track your refund in three ways:

Some companies market tax refund loans to receive your money faster. Unless you desperately need the cash, it’s best to avoid this option as they’re high in fees and may cause other issues if there’s a problem with your return.

Where’s my state refund?

Most individuals file their state taxes at the same time they file their federal taxes. Your state taxes often don’t take as long to process, but you still may ask yourself, “where is my state tax refund?” and not know where to start.

Click on the links below to go to your state’s refund tracker to learn the status of your state taxes.

How can I check my refund status?

It’s understandable to want to know the status of your return and track your tax refund.

As discussed, the best choice to check your status is to use the Get Refund Status page on the IRS site or use their app.

Remember, it’s best to wait at least 21 days after filing your taxes.

What should I do with my IRS refund?

It’s tempting to spend your refund on a big screen TV. However, that’s not a wise use of found money. There are several smart uses for a refund, including:

Pay off debt – Do you have debt? If so, paying it down is the best thing to do for your finances.

SoFi is an excellent option to consolidate and refinance that debt to lower your rates and pay it off quicker.

Invest – Investing is an awesome way to use found money. If investing in the stock market is overwhelming to you, there are affordable ways to receive help.

Betterment is an excellent choice as they manage your investments for you, ensuring they align with your goals. They offer this at a ridiculously low price.

Don’t like the stock market? Fundrise is an excellent choice that allows you to invest in real estate with as little as $500.

Save – This sounds boring, but if you don’t have an emergency fund, saving a portion of your tax refund is a wise move.

CIT Bank is an outstanding choice for saving with their money market account. The account pays .50 percent, with a $100 deposit. It operates like a savings account, with the same FDIC-insurance protection.

Spending on something fun is fine, just don’t foolishly waste a large refund.

What are some expected tax refund delays?

Being realistic is vital when it comes to delays from the IRS in processing your return. If you claim certain credits and deductions this may raise questions for the processor.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t claim them, or that there is a problem with your return. It means certain instances may cause delays. Those are:

  • Claiming the EITC or ACTC
  • Claiming the home office deduction
  • Filing your taxes too early
  • Errors on your tax return

If you claim the first three credits and deductions, it’s reasonable to expect a slight delay. Likewise, filing too early or a return with errors will cause delays.

A service like H&R Block helps you avoid the last two issues to help ensure there’s no delay in your refund. They also offer a free IRS tax refund estimator to help you see what you may receive.

Again, wait at least 21 days to use the IRS tax refund checker.



Tax season is stressful for many individuals, especially those needing their refund quickly, or those with complicated tax issues. Don’t let that stress cause you to make a mistake or have unreasonable expectations.

If you’re asking yourself, “where’s my tax refund?” remember it takes time. You can use the IRS tax refund tracker but allow at least 21 days from the date you filed your taxes to receive an accurate estimation.


What are your plans for your tax refund? How much are you anticipating receiving this year?

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.


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