Chinese Balloon Shot Down Galaxy S23 Ultra: Hands-On Netflix Password-Sharing Crackdown Super Bowl Ads Google's Answer to ChatGPT 'Knock at the Cabin' Review 'The Last of Us' Episode 4 Foods for Mental Health
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you
Accept

When You'll Get Your Tax Refund From the IRS and How to Track It

The IRS has started processing tax returns, and tax refunds will start showing up soon.

A stack of $100 bills on a grid with a green background
The quickest way to get your tax refund from the IRS is with direct deposit.
Zooey Laio/CNET

This story is part of Taxes 2023, CNET's coverage of the best tax software, tax tips and everything else you need to file your return and track your refund.

Tax season 2023 kicked off when the IRS began accepting 2022 tax returns on Jan. 23. You've got until April 18 to get it done, but filling your taxes early can provide several benefits, including getting your tax refund faster.

tax tips badge art
Robert Rodriguez/CNET

The IRS says that it issues tax refunds in less than 21 days for more than 90% of tax returns. The fastest way to get your money is with direct deposit; the slowest is with a paper check in the mail -- that will take about six to eight weeks.

Once you've filed your tax return and it's working its way through IRS processing, you don't have to sit in the dark waiting. A couple of free tools can help you track the progress of your tax return and estimate the arrival of your tax refund so that you can financially plan for your influx of cash.

The quickest way to monitor your tax refund is with an official IRS tax tool called Where's My Refund?. It will also let you know if your return has been rejected by the IRS because of errors. Read on to learn all about tracking your tax refund and the meaning of all the different IRS and bank codes.

For more tax tips, learn about filing your taxes on a phone or tablet and be sure to check out the best tax software for 2023.

How do I track my tax refund using Where's My Refund?

To use the IRS tracker tools, you'll need to provide your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number; your filing status (single, married or head of household); and your refund amount in whole dollars, which you can find on your tax return.

Make sure it's been at least 24 hours before you start tracking your refund, or up to four weeks if you mailed your return. 

Go to the Get Refund Status page on the IRS website and enter your personal data, then press Submit. You should be taken to a page that shows your refund status. If not, you may be asked to verify your personal tax data and try again. If all the information looks correct, you'll need to enter the date you filed your taxes, along with whether you filed electronically or on paper.

How do I find a tax refund from a previous year?

The Where's My Refund tool lists the federal refund information the IRS has from the past two years. If you're looking for return details from previous years, you'll need to check your IRS online account

From there, you'll be able to see the total amount you owe, your payment history, key information about your most recent tax return, notices you've received from the IRS and your address on file. 

Use the IRS2Go app to track your tax return

IRS2Go logo

The IRS2Go app is available for both iOS and Android.

Internal Revenue Service

The IRS also has a mobile app called IRS2Go that can monitor your tax refund status. It's available for both iOS and Android and in English and Spanish.

In the app you're able to see if your return was been received and approved and if a refund was sent. 

To log in, you'll need your Social Security number, filing status and the expected amount of your refund. The IRS updates the app overnight, so if you don't see a status change, check back the following day. 

What are the possible statuses of my tax return?

Both IRS tools (online and mobile app) will show you one of three messages to explain your tax return status.

  • Received: The IRS now has your tax return and is working to process it.
  • Approved: The IRS has processed your return and confirmed the amount of your refund, if you're owed one.
  • Sent: Your refund is now on its way to your bank via direct deposit or as a paper check sent to your mailbox. (Here's how to change the address on file if you've moved.)

Why does Where's My Refund Show 'Tax Topic 152' or an IRS error message?

Although the Where's My Refund tool typically shows a status of Received, Approved or Sent, there are a variety of other messages some users may see.

One of the most common is Tax Topic 152, indicating you're likely getting a refund but it hasn't been approved or sent yet. The notice simply links out to an informational topic page on the IRS FAQ website explaining the types and timing of tax refunds.

The delay could be an automated message for taxpayers claiming the child tax credit or earned income tax credit sent because of additional fraud protection steps.

Tax Topic 151 means your tax return is now under review by the IRS. The agency either needs to verify certain credits or dependents, or it has determined that your tax refund will be reduced to pay money that it believes you owe.

You'll need to wait about four weeks to receive a notice from the IRS explaining what you need to do to resolve the status.

There are other IRS refund codes that a small percentage of tax filers receive, indicating freezes, math errors on tax returns or undelivered checks. The College Investor offers a list of IRS refund reference codes and errors and their meaning.  

Can I call the IRS to check on my tax refund?

While you could try calling the IRS to check your status, the agency's live phone assistance is extremely limited. 

The IRS is directing taxpayers to the Let Us Help You page on its website and to get in-person help at Taxpayer Assistance Centers around the country. You can contact your local IRS office or call to make an appointment: 844-545-5640. You can also contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service if you're eligible for assistance by calling: 877-777-4778. 

Though the chances of getting live assistance are slim, the IRS says you should only call the agency directly if it's been 21 days or more since you filed your taxes online, or if the Where's My Refund tool tells you to. You can call 800-829-1040 or 800-829-8374 during regular business hours. 

If you have not received a refund yet, you shouldn't file a second tax return.

What does "IRS TREAS 310" mean on my bank statement?

If you receive your tax refund by direct deposit, you may see IRS TREAS 310 listed in the transaction. The 310 code simply identifies the transaction as a refund from a filed tax return in the form of electronic payment. You may also see TAX REF in the description field for a refund.

If you see a 449 instead of 310, it means your refund may have been offset for delinquent debt.

Why was my tax refund mailed instead of being deposited in my bank account?

There are a couple of reasons that your refund would be mailed to you. Your money can only be electronically deposited into a bank account with your name, your spouse's name or a joint account. If your bank rejected the deposit for some reason, it may be the next best way to get your refund. 

In addition, the IRS can only direct deposit up to three refunds to one account, so if you are getting multiple refund checks they will have to be mailed. If you're receiving a refund check in the mail, learn how to track it from the IRS to your mailbox.

It's important to note that direct deposit isn't always automatic for refunds. To be certain, sign in to your IRS account to check that the agency has your correct banking information.

How do I track a tax refund check in the mail?

The US Postal Service's Informed Delivery service is a free mail-tracking program that scans incoming letters and sends you an image when they are about to be delivered.

Informed Delivery has free apps for Android and iOS