What is the 2023 tax refund schedule?

1 min readLast updated October 4, 2023by Rachel Carey

Are you expecting a tax refund this year? We’ve checked out just how long it could take to reach you.

Tax refunds are one of the upsides of tax season, but how long does it take for the money to land in your account? It all depends on how you file your tax return and how you choose to receive your refund.

In previous years, the IRS processed nine out of ten tax refunds within 21 days. But if you file your return by mail and want your refund to be paid by check, it could take as long as two months.

When Will I Get My Tax Refund?

Once the IRS has received your return, it usually takes a day or two for them to check and accept your information.

Please note that the processing times for tax refunds can vary depending on various factors. It's always a good idea to check the IRS website or use their online tracking tool for the most up-to-date information on your specific refund status.

Filing methodPayment methodTime from the day of filing to receipt of the refund
E-file Direct deposit 1–3 weeks
E-file Check in mail 1 month
Paper file Direct deposit 3 weeks
Paper file Check in mail 2 months

Tracking Your Tax Refund

Nine in ten taxpayers now use e-file to submit their tax returns and direct deposit to get their refunds. Not only is this quick and simple, but it’s also safe—your check’s not at risk of getting lost in the mail, or is it at the mercy of postal service disruptions caused by extreme weather.

Even if you prefer to file your return by paper, you can still use direct deposit to receive your refund. To do this, you must select direct deposit as your refund method through your tax software and type in your account number and routing number (these can be found on the bottom of checks or through your online banking app).

Alternatively, tell your tax preparer you want to receive your refund by direct deposit, and they’ll make it happen on your behalf.

How Can I Find the Current Status of My Refund?

The IRS website has a ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool that’s updated daily to give you the latest information on your tax refund. To check the status of your refund, you’ll need to have the following to hand:

  • Your Social Security number or taxpayer ID

  • Your filing status

  • The refund amount on your return

The ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool has a tracker that displays the status of your refund according to three stages:

  1. Return received

  2. Refund approved

  3. Refund sent

You'll receive a refund date as soon as your return has been approved (stage two).

You can check on the status of your refund 24 hours after e-filing a return or four weeks after filing a paper return.

If you haven’t received your refund after 21 days despite having filed your taxes electronically and requested a direct deposit, it might be because your return needs further review—usually because it’s incomplete or incorrect. When this happens, you can expect to receive further instructions from the IRS.

What About My State Tax Refund?

Refund schedules for state tax refunds can vary, depending on the state you work in. Many states have a tracker similar to the IRS’s ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool, but you may need to register on the website for the relevant state’s Department of Revenue.

Refunds on state income tax are often processed more quickly than federal ones. For example, you can usually expect a refund within 30 days for e-filing, but a paper tax return could take up to 12 weeks.

Of course, if you work in one of the nine states with no state income tax—Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Washington, and Wyoming—you’ll only receive a refund on federal tax.

When Are Taxes Due?

For the 2023 tax year, the IRS is expected to set April 15, 2024, as the filing deadline. It’s a good idea to file your taxes on or before the deadline—otherwise, you could be subject to penalties and interest on the tax you owe. The IRS might also audit you.

Typically, the monthly penalty for late filing is five percent on the amount due, up to 25 percent on top of the tax you owe, plus interest. You might also miss out on tax credits if you’re late filing your return.

Remember, you can file for an extension if you cannot meet the April deadline. IRS Free File lets individual taxpayers request an extension to October 15—an extra six months. However, you must still estimate and pay any taxes you owe by the regular deadline to avoid a penalty.

Get More Tips for Tax Planning

A tax refund can feel like a windfall: a way to win back some of your hard-earned income from the IRS. Tax refunds can be saved, invested, or used to pay off debt. With Unbiased, you can get advice for making the most of your refund tailored to your financial situation.

However, if you’re regularly relying on a refund each year, you might need to speak to a financial advisor. A tax expert can give you a clearer picture of your allowances and entitlements to help you plan for the future and identify your financial goals.

Looking for more advice on tax planning? Unbiased can help. Answer a few questions, and we’ll find a financial advisor with the expertise to suit your situation.

Find a financial advisor today.

Senior Content Writer

Rachel Carey

Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.