In this article, we're going to break down the statuses you'll see when you check your refund status directly on the IRS' Where's My Refund page.
There are three primary statuses you'll see. They are "return received", "refund approved", and "refund sent".
The "Return Received" status means the IRS has received your tax return and is processing it. Your personalized refund date will be available as soon as the IRS finishes processing your return and confirms that your refund has been approved. The IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days.
This means the IRS has processed your return and your refund has been approved. The IRS is now preparing to send your refund to your bank or directly to you in the mail if you requested a paper check. This status will tell you when your refund is scheduled to be sent to your bank and, if you elected the direct deposit option, a date by which it should be credited to your account. Please wait until it’s been five days from the date we sent the refund to your bank to check with your bank about the status of your refund. This time frame is provided to allow for the variations in how and when banks deposit funds.
This is the status everyone wants to see. As the status pretty clearly states, "Refund Sent" means your refund is ready to go. Depending on how you chose to receive your refund, when you actually have access to your refund may vary. Here's some examples:
If you requested a paper check this means your check has been mailed. It could take several weeks for your check to arrive in the mail.
Did you choose to put your refund on an Emerald Card? Expect a slight delay as funds are disbursed from the IRS to the bank and loaded on to your card.
Did you choose direct deposit? Some financial institutions (such as banks and credit unions) may be a little slower to process your refund deposit. Allow for 2 to 5 days from the date the IRS provided for your bank to process.
Do you have outstanding debts held by the government? This could be things like back taxes, owed child support, defaulted government student loans, and more. All of these need to be deducted before you'll receive your refund.
Keep in mind: The IRS updates status once every 24 hours so it could take up to 24 hours for your status to indicate that you return has been received.