Top 5 Tips for Getting Your Tax Refund Quickly

Tax Refund Suggestions from the IRS

Tax Refund Checks Star of Republican Rally
Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

What is the fastest way to get your tax refund? 

Where can you check the status of your tax refund? How long will it take the Internal Revenue Service to send or deposit your tax refund? What's the quickest way to get a tax refund? What if your tax refund is smaller than you expected?

Fast Facts

  1. File your return electronically.
  2. Check your return carefully for errors and remember to sign it before mailing or submitting it to the IRS.
  3. Choose to have your refund direct-deposited into your bank account.
  4. Check the status of your return with the IRS’ “Where’s My Refund?” online tool.

Here are answers to the five most important questions about getting your tax refund quickly, accurately and easily from the IRS.

Question #1: When will I get my tax refund?

Answer: How quickly you receive your tax refund depends on how your filed your return, and whether you completed it accurately.

If you filed a paper tax return, it could tax the IRS up to six weeks from that date it receives your paperwork to issue your tax return.

If you want your tax refund more quickly, file your return electronically. The IRS typically issues tax refunds to electronic filers within three weeks.\

The sooner you file your return, the sooner you’ll get your refund. Filing early also reduces the risk of having your refund stolen. Tax refund theft is a growing problem that occurs when someone steals your personal information and uses it to file a fake return under your name and Social Security number and pocket the refund. If you are one of the millions of Americans who had or may have had their information stolen in any of the recent data breaches, be sure to file as soon as possible. While the IRS will work to straighten out refund theft, it can delay your refund by months.

Question #2: How can I check the status of my tax refund?

Answer: You can check the status of your tax refund a couple of ways.

The fastest and easiest way to track your tax refund is to use the IRS' "Where's My Refund?" tool on the IRS.gov home page. To check the status of your tax refund online you will need your Social Security number, filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund shown on your return.

You can also check the status of your tax refund by calling the IRS Refund Hotline at (800) 829-1954. You will need to provide your Social Security number, your filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of the refund shown on your return.

Question #3: What options do I have in getting my tax return?

Answer: You have three options for receiving your tax refund, according to the IRS.

The quickest way to get your tax refund into your bank account is to have it direct-deposited. But the IRS will also issue a paper check or, if you choose, U.S. Savings Bonds. You can use your refund to buy up to $5,000 in U.S. Series I savings bonds in multiples of $50.

Question #4: What if I don't get a tax refund, or the amount is wrong?

Answer: If you get a tax refund that you either weren't expecting or is larger that you expected, do not immediately cash the check. The IRS recommends taxpayers wait for a notice explaining the difference, and then follow the instruction on that notice.

If your tax refund isn't a big as you thought is should have been, go ahead and cash the check. The IRS may determine later that you are owed more and send a separate check.

If you want to contest the amount of your tax refund, wait two weeks after receiving the refund, then call (800) 829-1040.

If you didn't get a tax refund or lost or accidentally destroyed it, you can file an online claim at "Where's My Refund" for a replacement check if it's been more than 28 days from the date that we mailed your refund.

Question #5: What else can I do to make sure I get my tax refund quickly?

Answer: Make sure to check your return before sending it. Errors can stall the delivery or your tax refund.

The most common tax return errors, according to the IRS, are writing incorrect Social Security numbers or forgetting to enter them altogether; miscalculating the tax owed based on taxable income and marital status; entering data on the wrong lines of the form; and basic math mistakes.