You Can Get Your Tax Refund Up to 5 Days Sooner. Here's How

If you're looking for a way to get your tax refund sooner than the average 21 days, you can use one of these apps to help get your money days earlier than usual.

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
Expertise Personal Finance: Social Security and taxes
Nina Raemont Writer
A recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, Nina started at CNET writing breaking news stories before shifting to covering Security Security and other government benefit programs. In her spare time, she's in her kitchen, trying a new baking recipe.
Katie Teague
Nina Raemont
3 min read

As with "early paychecks," online payment services often process direct deposits faster than banks do.

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If you're planning to file your tax return soon and want your refund money as soon as possible, make sure you file electronically and set up direct deposit. It's a simple way to access your IRS money a few days or weeks sooner than if you depend on the mail to submit your taxes and receive your refund. 

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There's also another way to get your tax refund up to five days quicker, and you don't even need a bank account. Cash transfer apps such as Venmo, Cash App or PayPal can help you process your tax refund, and they can provide your money earlier than traditional banking services can.

We'll tell you how to set up direct deposit with Venmo, Cash App or PayPal to get your refund sooner. For more, here's how to file taxes for free and the tax brackets for 2024. Also, here's our cheat sheet for filing your taxes and picks for the best tax software.

Read more: File Early and Get Up to 20% Off Your 2023 Taxes With TurboTax

How to get your tax refund sooner

Unlike most banks, cash transfer apps like Venmo can make your deposits available to you as soon as they're received. That means you can get your refund back up to five days sooner because you wouldn't have to wait for your bank to process the deposit, which could take up to a week.

Read more: Best Tax Software for 2024

How to get your refund through Venmo

Setting up a Venmo account takes less than five minutes. Here's how to do it.

1. Download the Venmo app on your mobile phone and create an account or sign in.

2. Select the profile icon at the bottom right side of the screen, then tap the Settings button.

3. Scroll down and tap Direct Deposit. Note that you'll need to verify your ID if you haven't already.

4. Select "Show account number" to access your Venmo account details.

5. When you file your tax return, enter your Venmo routing and account number. Once your taxes have been processed by the IRS, your refund will be sent to your Venmo account up to five days early.

Mobile payment app like Venmo and Cash App

Your refund could arrive up to five days earlier via a money transfer app.

James Martin/CNET

How to get your refund through Cash App

If you'd like to set up direct deposit with Cash App, here's how to do it.

1. Download the Cash App app on your mobile phone and create an account or sign in.

2. Tap the Banking tab on the bottom left side of your screen. It's the one shaped like a building.

3. Scroll down and select Direct Deposit. It will note that you can get your money two days faster.

4. Next, you'll need to create a free Cash Card. Tap Get Free Cash Card and follow the on-screen prompts.

5. Once you're finished, you can go back to the Direct Deposit tab and copy your routing and account numbers. Use those when you file your taxes. Your refund will arrive up to two days sooner.

Read more: IRS Delays 1099-K: What PayPal, Venmo and Cash App Users Need to Know for Tax Season

Get your tax refund through PayPal

Just like Venmo (owned by PayPal) and Cash App, you can get your money back two days sooner with PayPal. Here's how.

1. Download PayPal on your mobile device and sign in or create an account.

2. Scroll through the top menu options and select Direct Deposit.

3. Now you should be able to access your routing and account information in your PayPal wallet. You can get your refund up to five days early when you use PayPal for direct deposit from the IRS.

For more information, here's how to track your tax refund