Tax Refund Chart Can Help You Guess When You'll Receive Your Money

Today's the day! Release the hounds! Or, er, the refund checks!

As you've no doubt heard by now, Congress passed a new law called the "Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015." Under that law, the IRS must wait until a certain date this year to begin issuing refunds to taxpayers who claimed the earned-income tax credit (EITC) or the additional child tax credit (ACTC). That date is today, February 15, 2017.

But here's the rub: the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will begin to release affected tax refunds on today, February 15. That does not mean that refunds will be available today. In addition to normal processing times for banks, President’s Day weekend may impact when you get your refund. The IRS cautions that delayed refunds may not start arriving in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of February 27, assuming that there are no processing issues with your tax return and you choose direct deposit.

If you want to get your refund as fast as possible, the IRS recommends that you e-file your tax return and use direct deposit. If you file by paper, it will take longer: expect it to take an additional one to two weeks from the last date shown on the chart below.

Follows are my best guesses for expected returns based on filing dates and information from the IRS. I can't stress enough that these are simply educated guesses. I like math and charts as much as the next girl, but there are a number of factors that could affect your tax refund (keep reading).

My numbers are based on an expected IRS receipt date beginning on the open of tax season, January 23, 2017, through the close of tax season on April 18, 2017. To keep the chart manageable, I've assumed the IRS received your e-filed tax return on the first business day of the week; that's usually a Monday, but if there's a holiday (like President's Day), I've skipped ahead until Tuesday. The same logic holds true for issuing refunds. In reality, the IRS typically issues tax refunds more than once throughout the week (that would be one heck of a chart), so the date could move forward or backward depending on the actual day your return was received. Other tax sites may have different numbers but remember they're just guessing, too.

The IRS used to send a chart like this out, but they no longer release an official schedule. If you're looking for more information on your refund, the IRS encourages you to use the "Where's My Refund?" tool. The IRS updates the site once per day, usually overnight.

Even if you request direct deposit, you may still receive a paper check: as of 2014, the IRS has changed the rules related to refunds and direct deposit so that no more than three electronic refunds can be directly deposited into a single financial or bank account or applied to a pre-paid debit card. Taxpayers who exceed the limit will instead receive their refund in the form of a paper check. Additionally, the IRS won’t issue a refund by direct deposit into just any account: it can only be deposited into an account in your own name, your spouse’s name or both of your names if married with a joint account. If there's an issue with the account, the IRS will send a paper check.

If it’s been more than 21 days since the IRS received your e-filed return and you still don’t have your refund, AND you did not claim the EITC or ACTC (remember, those refunds won't be issued until after February 15), there may be a problem. There might be an error on your return, it may be incomplete or require further review, or you may have been impacted by identity theft or tax fraud. If the IRS needs more info, they will contact you by mail.

Of course, taxpayers who do not claim the EITC or the ACTC are not affected by the new law. The IRS still expects to issue more than 90% of federal tax refunds in less than 21 days; some tax returns, however, may require additional review and may take longer.


‘Where’s My Refund?’ status will be available this week for EITC and ACTC filers

The Where’s My Refund? tool, the IRS web page where taxpayers and tax professionals can check on the status of refunds, will be updated on Saturday, February 18 for most early filers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit.

The IRS said Tuesday that the page will be updated with projected deposit dates for early EITC and ACTC refund filers a few days after Wednesday, February 15. Before February 18, some taxpayers may see a projected deposit date or an intermittent message that the IRS is processing their return.

By law, the IRS is required to hold EITC and ACTC refunds until February 15.

Due to differing time frames with financial institutions, weekends and the Presidents Day holiday, these refunds likely will not start arriving in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of February 27, if there are no processing issues with the return and the taxpayer chose direct deposit.

Income Tax Refund Late? Here's When You Should Get It - 2017 IRS Refund Schedule

If you're one of the millions of Americans who are asking, "Why haven't I gotten my 2017 income tax refund yet?" we have the answer. It depends on a couple of things, but the good news is that there are several tools to help find out.

First of all, taxpayers who use a professional, such as a CPA or EA, can ask that professional for an estimated date. Taxpayers who've already filed can also go to the Internal Revenue Service's website, which has a tool designed specifically for that called, "Where's My Refund?"

There are also apps for Apple, Android and other devices that help track refund status.

Note: The IRS started processing most returns on January 24 in 2017, but did not start processing returns with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until Feb. 15, 2017. If you filed early, this is probably the reason for the delay.

Here's the chart:

IRS Accepts Between    These Dates    Direct Deposit Sent        
Tuesday 1/24/2017    Friday 1/27/17    Friday 2/3/17        
1/27/17    2/3/17    Friday 2/10/17        
2/3/17    2/10/17    Friday 2/17/17        
2/10/17    2/15/17    Friday 2/24/17        
Wednesday 2/15/17    2/24/17    Friday 3/3/17        
2/24/17    3/3/17    Friday 3/10/17        
3/3/17    3/10/17    Friday 3/17/17        
3/10/17    3/17/17    Friday 3/24/17        
3/17/17    3/24/17    Friday 3/31/17        

3/24/17    3/31/17    Friday 4/7/17   

Friday 3/31/17

Friday 4/7/17    Friday 4/14/17    Friday 4/14/17   
4/7/17    4/14/17    Friday 4/21/17    Friday 4/21/17   
4/14/17    4/21/17    Friday 4/28/17    Friday 4/28/17   
4/21/17    4/28/17    Friday 5/5/17    Friday 5/5/17   
4/28/17    5/5/17    Friday 5/12/17    Friday 5/12/17   
5/5/17    5/12/17    Friday 5/19/17    Friday 5/19/17   
5/12/17    5/19/17    Friday 5/26/17    Friday 5/26/17   
5/19/17    5/26/17    Friday 6/2/17    Friday 6/2/17   
5/26/17    6/2/17    Friday 6/9/17    Friday 6/9/17   
6/2/17    6/9/17    Friday 6/16/17    Friday 6/16/17   

Friday 6/9/17

Friday 6/16/17    Friday 6/23/17    Friday 6/23/17   
6/16/17    6/23/17    Friday 6/30/17    Friday 6/30/17   
6/23/17    6/30/17    Friday 7/7/17    Friday 7/7/17   
6/30/17    7/7/17    Friday 7/14/17    Friday 7/14/17   
7/7/17    7/14/17    Friday 7/21/17    Friday 7/21/17   
7/14/17    7/21/17    Friday 7/28/17    Friday 7/28/17   
7/21/17    7/28/17    Friday 8/4/17    Friday 8/4/17   
7/28/17    8/4/17    Friday 8/11/17    Friday 8/11/17   
8/4/17    8/11/17    Friday 8/18/17    Friday 8/18/17   
8/11/17    8/18/17    Friday 8/25/17    Friday 8/25/17   
This information is for income tax returns you filed in 2017 (technically for taxes paid/owed in 2016). In general, the IRS says that returns with refunds are processed and payments issued within 21 days. For paper filers, this can take much longer, however. The IRS and tax professionals strongly encourage electronic filing.

How quickly a taxpayer receives a refund also depends on when they file and whether they have requested a direct deposit of their refund, or a paper check. This is because during some time frames there is increased traffic, with more filers getting their forms in. The busiest time, and which can experience longer waits on refunds, is usually for those who file in the last week before the April 15 deadline.

The chart above provides a general estimate of when taxpayers can expect their refund, based on date filed and type of refund payment.

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