What Happens After the IRS Accepts My Return?

You might learn that the IRS has accepted your income tax return within days of filing or after a few weeks, depending on how you file.

You might learn that the IRS has accepted your income tax return within days of filing or after a few weeks, depending on how you file.

The Internal Revenue Service can accept your tax return within 72 hours of e-filing or within three weeks for a paper return. You will receive an email notification that your return has been received within 24 hours of your electronic submission. The "Where's My Refund" tool on the IRS website allows you to check the status of your tax refund, including the date that it was accepted. Submitting all required documents with a paper return, verifying all of the information on the return and checking that each required form is signed will help prevent a delay in the processing of your tax return.

When You Request Direct Deposit

Click on the "Where's My Refund?" link on the irs.gov website. Enter your Social Security number, filing status and the expected amount of your refund. The next screen will indicate the anticipated date that you will receive your direct deposit.

Wait. A direct deposit of your tax return will commonly take seven to 14 days from the date that the return was accepted.

Check your email. You will receive email updates about your tax return if you use e-file.

When You Request a Paper Check

Wait for at least 72 hours after filing electronically or three weeks after mailing your return and then use the "Where's My Refund" tool on the IRS website or call the Refund Hotline at 1-800–829–1954 for automated information about your tax return.

Check the current year's IRS Refund Cycle Chart. This form indicates the IRS's projected date to issue paper checks, based on the date that the IRS accepted the return. The current year's chart can be found on the Internal Revenue Service's website after clicking on the "Efile" link on the homepage.

Wait for the check to come in the mail. Ensure that the IRS has the most current address for you. The Internal Revenue Service generally issues paper checks after three weeks of the acknowledgement date.

When You Owe the IRS Money

Wait for your IRS tax bill to arrive in the mail. Underpayments follow the same schedules as refunds. The bill contains information about the amount that you owe and the date that the principal balance must be paid. If the bill is not paid in full by the due date listed, you will incur additional penalties and interest charges.

Pay the bill. The IRS accepts checks, money orders, debit cards and credit cards. Mail your check or money order with the bill to the address provided on the bill statement.

Request additional time to pay your tax obligation if you do not have the immediate funds to pay off your tax obligation. If you are granted this extension, you will pay less in interest and fees than individuals who do not make this request.

Items you will need

  • Tax return


  • Keep a copy of your tax return and Forms W-2 for at least three years. You will need these records in case you are audited. Specifically, keep records that verify your income, expenses and investments.


  • The IRS is not responsible if you enter the wrong routing number on your tax return. You may be able to recover the funds from the bank, but this will cause a delay in receiving your tax refund.

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About the Author

Samantha Kemp is a lawyer for a general practice firm. She has been writing professionally since 2009. Her articles focus on legal issues, personal finance, business and education. Kemp acquired her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She also has degrees in economics and business and teaching.

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