How long does it take to get your tax return?

How long does it take to get your tax return?

The processing time for tax returns can vary depending on various factors, including the method of filing, the complexity of your return, and the time of the year. Typically, if you e-file your tax return and choose direct deposit for your refund, you may receive it within a few weeks. However, if you file a paper return or if your return is more complex, it may take longer.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides tools on their website, such as "Where's My Refund?", which allows you to track the status of your refund. These are general guidelines, and individual cases may vary.

What is a tax return?

A tax return is a form or set of forms filed with a tax authority, such as the IRS, reporting income, expenses, and other relevant financial information. Individuals and businesses are required to file tax returns annually to calculate their tax liability or the amount of taxes owed to the government.

For individuals, a tax return typically includes details about their income, deductions, credits, and other relevant financial information for a specific tax year. The tax return is used to determine whether the individual owes additional taxes or is entitled to a refund. It is a way for taxpayers to reconcile their financial activities with their jurisdiction's tax laws and regulations.

Businesses also file tax returns, providing information about their income, expenses, and other financial details. The specific forms used for tax returns vary based on the type of entity (e.g., individual, corporation, partnership) and the tax jurisdiction.

Filing a tax return is a legal requirement and failure to do so within the specified deadline may result in penalties or fines. It's important for individuals and businesses to understand their tax obligations and to file accurate and timely tax returns.

The term tax refund is typically used to refer to money a person or business receives as a result of an overpayment of their taxes.

How to check on my tax return?

To check on the status of your tax return, you can use the "Where's My Refund?" tool provided by the IRS.

The IRS website tool, “Where’s My Refund?” will provide you with the current status of your tax return, including whether it has been received, processed, and when you can expect your refund. You should check the website regularly as the status is updated once per day, usually overnight.

Alternatively, you can also check the status of your tax return by calling the IRS Refund Hotline at 1-800-829-1954.

What is a tax return?

Documents needed to check your tax return

To check the status of your tax return, you should have the following information ready:

  1. Your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

  2. Your filing status (single, married filing jointly, etc.)

  3. The exact amount of the refund you are expecting

What to expect for refunds this year

Recent changes to the tax code could result in larger tax refunds when people file their taxes in 2024.

Tax bracket ranges are increasing by 6.9% on average for the 2023 tax year. The standard deduction is also increasing by 6.9% or 7.2% depending on filing status. The Earned Income Tax Credit amount is also increasing by 7.1%.

The inflation-adjusted increases to certain tax credits, deductions, and tax brackets for next year could translate into larger tax refunds when folks file their taxes in 2024.

The IRS makes inflation adjustments every year but this year’s changes are even more crucial as Americans deal with sky-high inflation. The increases for the 2023 tax season are the largest in the past 40 years - meaning that the average taxpayer should see a larger refund this year.

Here are the new tax brackets for the 2023 tax year.


Taxable Income Rate Single Taxpayers Income Bracket Married, Filing Jointly Income Bracket
10% ≤$11,000 ≤$22,000
12% $11,001 - $44,725 $22,001 - $89,450
22% $44,726 - $95,375 $89,451 - $190,750
24% $95,376 - $182,100 $190,751 - $364,200
32% $182,101 - $231,250 $364,201 - $462,500
35% $231,251 - $578,125 $462,501 - $693,750
37% ≥ $578,126 ≥ $693,751

Standard deduction increases for tax year 2023

The standard deduction, which 90% of taxpayers choose over itemizing their taxes, is also getting a boost.

Married couples filing jointly will see a $1,800 increase in the standard deduction from the prior year. Head of household filers will see a $1,400 increase. Single and married individuals filing separately will see a $900 increase in the standard deduction.

Earned Income Tax Credit increase for the 2023 tax year

For the 2023 tax year, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will increase to $7,430 for qualifying taxpayers with three or more children, a $495 increase from $6,935 for the 2022 tax year. The IRS provides a table with the maximum EITC amount for other categories, income thresholds, and phase-outs in its revenue procedure.

The EITC you qualify for depends on how many hours you worked for someone or yourself, whether you are married or single, and the number of qualifying children you have. Around one in five eligible workers miss out on this valuable tax benefit, which is often credited with reducing poverty for working families alongside the Child Tax Credit.

Other tax inflation changes

Qualified transportation fringe benefits, annual exclusion for gifts, foreign earned income exclusion, contributions to retirement accounts, flexible spending accounts (FSA), and similar “cafeteria plans” are also adjusted for inflation.

Federal tax refund schedule

The federal tax refund schedule can vary based on several factors, including how you filed your return (electronically or by mail) and when you filed it.

Additionally, factors such as the complexity of your return and any potential issues with your filing can affect the processing time.

Here is a general overview of the federal tax refund schedule:

Estimated 2024 IRS refund schedule

The IRS refund schedule for 2024 begins on January 29, 2024. Taxpayers who file quickly and choose direct deposit can anticipate receiving their refunds 21 days after the IRS receives their tax return.

How to get through your tax return

Navigating through your tax return can seem complex, but breaking it down into manageable steps can make the process more straightforward. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to get through your tax return:

  1. Gather Necessary Documents - Collect all relevant financial documents, including W-2s, 1099s, receipts, and any other records of income, deductions, or credits.

  2. Choose a Filing Status - Determine your filing status (single, married filing jointly, head of household, etc.), as it affects your tax rates and deductions.

  3. Choose a Filing Method - Decide whether to file your taxes electronically (e-file) or by mail (paper filing). E-filing is generally faster and more convenient.

  4. Use Tax Software or Hire a Professional - Consider using tax software to guide you through the process. Alternatively, hire a tax professional if your situation is complex.

  5. Fill Out the Tax Forms - Complete the necessary tax forms based on your financial situation. Common forms include 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ.

  6. Report Income - Enter details about your income, including wages, self-employment income, dividends, and interest.

  7. Claim Deductions - Identify eligible deductions, such as mortgage interest, student loan interest, medical expenses, and other itemized deductions.

  8. Claim Tax Credits - Check for tax credits you qualify for, such as the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, or education credits.

  9. Review and Double-Check - Carefully review your tax return for accuracy. Ensure all information is entered correctly to avoid potential issues.

  10. File Your Tax Return - Submit your tax return by the deadline. If you owe taxes, arrange for payment. If you're entitled to a refund, choose direct deposit for faster processing.

  11. Keep Copies - Make copies of your filed tax return, W-2s, and supporting documents. Store them in a secure place for future reference.

By following these steps and staying organized, you can navigate the tax return process more smoothly.

Ask the Lawyer the Right Questions

Having a lawyer help you with tax return

Having a tax return lawyer assist you with your tax return can be beneficial, especially if you have a complex financial situation, face legal challenges, or want to ensure compliance with tax laws.

Here are some reasons why you might consider hiring a lawyer to help with your tax return:

  1. Complex Tax Situations - If your financial situation is complex, involving multiple sources of income, investments, businesses, or international transactions, a tax lawyer can help navigate the complexities and ensure accurate reporting.

  2. Business and Corporate Taxes - Business owners, entrepreneurs, and those with corporate interests may benefit from legal guidance to optimize their tax strategy, navigate deductions, and comply with business tax laws.

  3. Tax Planning and Advice - Tax lawyers can provide strategic tax planning advice to help you minimize your tax liability legally. They can assist in making informed decisions about investments, retirement planning, and other financial matters.

  4. Legal Issues and Disputes - If you are facing legal issues related to taxes, such as an audit, tax evasion allegations, or disputes with tax authorities, a tax lawyer can provide legal representation and help resolve these matters.

  5. Estate Planning - Individuals with significant assets may require estate planning services to minimize estate taxes. A tax lawyer can assist in creating an estate plan that aligns with your goals and reduces tax implications.

  6. Tax Litigation - In the event of a tax dispute that escalates to litigation, a tax lawyer can represent you in court, presenting legal arguments and advocating on your behalf.

  7. Legal Privilege - Communications with a tax lawyer are typically protected by attorney-client privilege. This means that you can discuss sensitive financial matters with your lawyer, and those discussions remain confidential.

  8. IRS Representation - A tax lawyer can represent you before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in case of audits, appeals, or other interactions. They can handle communication with tax authorities on your behalf.

  9. Knowledge of Tax Law Changes - Tax laws are subject to frequent changes. A tax lawyer stays informed about these changes and can help you navigate evolving tax regulations.

While hiring a tax lawyer can be beneficial in certain situations, it's essential to assess your specific needs and the complexity of your financial situation. Consider consulting with both a lawyer and a tax professional to determine the most appropriate course of action for your specific circumstances.

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