This post is was originally published on The College Investor
Updated for the 2017 Tax Year (2018 Tax Season)
One of the most pressing questions in the life of an early tax filer – when can I expect my tax refund to come? Before e-filing, this was always difficult to predict. First, you mail in your return. Then someone inputs all your information (and later, computers scanned in your information), then the Treasury had to issue a check, which was then mailed to you. Now, with a free IRS e-file, you can get your refund in as little as 8 days from when you file, if you elect for direct deposit.
For 9 out of 10 taxpayers, the IRS issued refunds in less than 21 days from the date the return was received last year.
The IRS has NOT officially announced a starting date yet, but we believe the IRS will start accepting e-File returns on January 23, 2018. The IRS does not release a calendar, but continues to issue guidance that most filers should receive their refund within 21 days. They also remind filers that many tax software programs allow you to submit your taxes before the start of tax season. However, these software programs don’t eFile until the IRS opens the system (with a few minor exceptions for testing).
Also, you are legally allowed to mail in your 2017 tax return starting on January 1, 2018, but once again, if the IRS isn’t processing returns yet, there is no point to be so quick.
We also have put together an IRS Where’s My Refund FAQ and Questions for common issues people are seeing this year.
Early Filers – You Will See A Delay In Your Refund
Congress passed a law last year that requires the IRS to HOLD all tax refunds that include the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until February 15, 2018, regardless of how early the tax return was filed. So, if you file on the first day, you might still be waiting until February 15 for your refund.
The IRS released a note last year that people held up by this delay shouldn’t expect their refunds until the week of February 27, assuming there are no other problems with the tax returns. You can read this press release here.
The goal of this is to cut down on fraud and give the IRS time to ensure no duplicate returns are filed. The trouble is, the IRS will hold your entire tax refund, not just the EITC or ACTC part.
When you get your refund, don’t let it go to waste! Make sure you put it in a high yield savings account ASAP!
The 2018 IRS Refund Schedule Chart
Here is a chart of when you can expect your tax refund for when the return was accepted (based on e-Filing). This is an estimate based on past years trends, but based on early information, does seem accurate for about 90% of taxpayers. Also, as always, you can use the link after the calendar to get your specific refund status.
Now, when to expect my tax refund!
If, for some reason, you didn’t receive your return in the time specified above, give or take a few days, you can always use the IRS’s tool called Get Refund Status. Since the link requires personal information, here is the non-html version: https://sa2.www4.irs.gov/irfof/lang/en/irfofgetstatus.jsp.
Once you enter all your information, it will tell you what is going on with your refund. Remember, if you input the wrong SSN, it could cause an IRS Error Code 9001, and might make your return be held for Identity Verification.
Also, many people are concerned because they received a Reference Code when checking WMR. Here is a complete list of IRS Reference Codes. Just match up the code with the one in the list, and see what the problem could be. As always, if you are concerned, you can call the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040.
Looking for an old IRS refund chart? We saved them for you below.
2017 IRS Refund Schedule Chart
Still looking for the chart from 2017. Don’t worry, we saved it below. Remember, this is not an official chart published by the IRS, but a guideline we created based on the timing we’ve seen helping tax payers every year.
2016 IRS Refund Schedule Chart
Still looking for the chart for 2016? Here you go. Remember, this is not an official chart provided by the IRS, but a guideline we created based on the timing we’ve seen.
2015 IRS Refund Schedule Chart
Still looking for the chart from 2015? Here you go. Remember, this is not an official chart provided by the IRS, but a guideline we created based on timing we’ve seen.
The 2014 Estimated Refund Schedule
Still looking for 2014’s chart? Well, here it is. Remember, the IRS replaced this chart with the standard “90% of filers should receive their refunds within 21 days”. However, based on experiences talking to a lot of filers, this chart still was pretty accurate.
Important Notice For Tax Time
Did you know that identity theft, especially around tax season, is running rampant? People’s credit information was stolen at Target, Home Depot, even The State of California. Now’s a great time to make sure that your credit is safe.
Credit Karma: Second, now is a great time to check your credit report and make sure that there are no issues. You should be checking your credit at least once per year, and tax time is a great time to do it. We recommend using Credit Karma because it’s free! Plus, Credit Karma has a lot of great tools to help you improve your credit if you need to, and they can help you monitor your credit over time.
Photo Credit: wirojsid