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Once you’ve completed the time-consuming process of filing your taxes, your sigh of satisfaction may be brief. That’s because you’ll probably wonder, “How long does it take to get a tax refund?” However, as happy as you are to get your federal income tax refund, you may be disappointed by IRS processing times.

So, as you plan your budget for the year, you should consider how long it will take to receive your federal tax refund. A financial advisor may assist you in developing a thorough financial strategy for your future, in addition to tax planning.

When you get your tax refund will depend largely on how you file your return. The fastest option is to e-file your return and to receive your refund via direct deposit. The majority of taxpayers who choose this option will receive their refunds within 21 days. That means your bank will have your refund within three weeks from the day the IRS accepts your tax return. Then it may take up to a few additional days for your bank to make the funds available to you.

If you file a paper return or if you want to receive your refund as a paper check, your return will take longer to process. Filing a paper return and receiving your refund as a paper check will take the longest to process at two months or more. So if you’re inclined to sit around asking, “How long does it take to get a tax refund?” you might want to consider e-filing, or at least direct deposit.

The table below will give you an idea of how long it typically takes to get a tax refund:

Federal Tax Refund Schedule

 Filing MethodE-File, Direct DepositPaper File, Direct DepositE-File, Check in MailPaper File, Check in Mail
Time from the day you file until you receive your refund*1-3 weeks3 weeks1 month2 months

*Note that these are just guidelines. Based on how you file, most filers can generally expect to receive a refund within these time frames.

The IRS typically starts accepting returns in the last week of January. In 2023, the 2022 tax filing season began on January 23. For reference, here’s a detailed breakdown of when in 2024 taxpayers could get their 2023 refund based on estimates from previous tax years:

Estimated 2024 IRS Refund Schedule

Taxes AcceptedDirect DepositPaper Check
Week of January 22February 9February 16
Week of January 29February 16February 23
Week of February 5February 23March 1
Week of February 12March 1March 8
Week of February 19March 8March 15
Week of February 26March 15March 22
Week of March 4March 22March 29
Week of March 11March 29April 5
Week of March 18April 5April 12
Week of March 25April 12April 19
Week of April 1April 19April 26
Week of April 8April 26May 3
Week of April 15May 3May 10

If you claimed either the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), you may have to wait a bit longer for your refund. Law requires the IRS to hold refunds from these returns until mid-February. You shouldn’t expect the refund to hit your bank account until late February, according to the IRS. If you don’t elect for direct deposit or if there are problems with your return, you can expect the refund to take longer.

How to Check Your Tax Refund Status

Are you the sort of person who constantly wonders, “How long does it take to get a tax refund?” If you want to check the status of your federal tax refund, you can use the Where’s My Refund? on the IRS website. You can also access that tool on the IRS2Go mobile app. Your return’s status will usually be available within 24 hours if you file electronically. If you mailed a paper return, it will take at least four weeks before you can check the status of your return.

Read Also: What Percentage of My Taxes Goes to Welfare?

You’ll need three pieces of information to check your return’s status:

  • Your Social Security number (SSN)
  • Your filing status
  • The exact dollar amount of your expected refund

If you filed a return with the EITC or ACTC, the IRS says you can expect your refund status to update by late February.

How long it takes to get your tax refund will depend on how and when you file your tax return. The best way to get your refund quickly is to e-file your return and elect to receive the refund by direct deposit. For the 2023 tax year, the vast majority of e-filers (who also use direct deposit for refunds) can expect to receive their refund within 21 days, as has been the case in previous years.

Sending a paper return or receiving your refund as a paper check will potentially slow down processing by months. The IRS also processes returns more slowly at the beginning and end of the tax season. That’s because the majority of taxpayers file during those times.

  • Taxes are just one aspect of your overall financial life. A financial advisor can help you plan your retirement, and estate and optimize your tax strategy for all of your financial goals. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • If you still need to file your taxes, make sure to consider all of your filing options. Two of the largest tax-filing services are H&R Block and TurboTax. Both are easy to use and offer step-by-step guidance to help you maximize your return.
  • State governments use their own systems for handling tax returns. In some states, you’ll get your refund within a couple of days, while other states will take weeks or months to process.
  • If you find yourself relying on your tax refund to make ends meet, you may be able to make some changes to your tax withholding. Claiming more or fewer allowances on your W-4 will impact how much tax your employer removes from checks. Withholding less in taxes will mean more take-home pay. If you receive a big refund come tax time, there may be room for you to increase your allowances.

Guide for NY Taxpayers

In New York State, the Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF) collects individual income tax, estate tax, and a variety of company taxes. If you cannot afford to pay your state taxes, you may face severe consequences; nevertheless, the DTF also provides many resolution options.

If you can’t afford to pay your New York State taxes in full, you may want to pay them with a credit card, a loan, or by selling some of your assets. Alternatively, you can work with the New York tax department to make arrangements for your tax debt. Here are the tax relief options in New York state.

Payment Plan on NY State Back Taxes

The NYS DTF allows qualifying individual and business taxpayers to make monthly payments on their tax debts. You can request a payment plan online f you owe $20,000 or less and can pay off the bill in 36 or fewer monthly payments. Otherwise, you need to contact the department directly if you owe more or need more time. 

Interest and penalties will continue to accrue on your tax bill as you make payments, but once you set up a payment plan, the state won’t pursue any other collection actions. If you miss a payment or fail to file or pay other tax obligations, you go into default, and the DTF can rescind the installment agreement and demand full payment. 

New York State Offer in Compromise 

An offer in compromise is when the state agrees to settle your tax bill for less than you owe, and New York State has strict requirements for this program. Individuals can apply if they are insolvent or if full payment would create undue economic hardship. Businesses can only apply if they have filed for bankruptcy. 

In New York, you can apply for an offer in compromise online or through the mail using Form DTF-4 (Offer in Compromise) and Form DTF-5 (Statement of Financial Condition). You must share very detailed information about your finances, and you must make a settlement offer. The state will only accept your offer if it looks like the most you can possibly pay. 

Innocent Spouse, Separation of Liabilities, and Equitable Relief

New York State offers innocent spouse relief to taxpayers who have incurred tax bills as a result of their former spouse’s actions. To qualify as an innocent spouse, you generally must show that you didn’t know about the income that lead to the tax bill and that you didn’t benefit from it. If you knew about the tax liability but it would be unfair to hold you responsible, you may qualify under the rules for equitable relief. 

To apply, file Form IT-285 (Request for Innocent Spouse Relief and Separation of Liability and Equitable Relief). If you have applied for IRS innocent spouse relief, you should include a copy of your acceptance letter. If not, you will need to fill out an additional part of the form to figure out which portion of the tax liability is allocated to you versus your spouse. 

If the DTF has seized a tax refund due to your spouse’s debt, you can apply to get your portion of the refund back. File Form IT-280 (Nonpbligted Spouse Allocation). You can also file this form proactively if you’re filing a joint return and you know that it may be seized due to your spouse’s debts. 

Penalty Abatement 

You can request penalty abatement if you disagree with the penalty or had reasonable cause to incur the penalty. You will need to explain why you paid or filed late. If the DTF agrees, it will waive some or all of your penalties. If you don’t have reasonable cause, you may qualify to get first-time penalties waived. 

Appealing New York State Tax Assessments

If you disagree with a tax assessment, you have the right to appeal. You also have the right to protest if you receive a Notice of Determination or Notice of Deficiency that outlines protest rights. You must file the protest in writing by the date on the notice. 

If you don’t appeal or protest by the due date or if you’re dealing with a tax issue that doesn’t include the right to protect, you can request a review. To appeal the results of an audit, review your audit notice for instructions. If you have new information about your audit, you can request a courtesy conference, but only if you haven’t requested an Advisory Opinion or challenged the results in court. 

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Taxes in New York?

If you don’t pay your state tax liability, you will incur penalties and interest on your account. The New York DTF will also send you a notice of deficiency. If you ignore the notice, the state will issue a tax warrant and pursue collection actions against you. Here is an overview of what happens if you don’t pay New York State taxes. 

Tax Penalties for Late Returns and Unpaid Taxes

The New York DTF assesses the following penalties for individuals who file or pay their tax returns late:

  • 5% monthly penalty for late returns, up to 25% of the balance, and a minimum penalty of $100 once you are 60 days late.
  • 5% for unpaid taxes per month, up to 25% of the balance. 
  • 10% of the unreported tax if the tax reported on your return is $2,000 or 10% less than you actually owe. The DTF uses the larger number.
  • 5% of the unreported tax if you underreported the tax due to negligence, plus 50% of the interest related to the underpayment. 
  • 2x the underreported tax if you underreported the tax due to fraud.
  • $5,000 plus other applicable penalties if you file a frivolous return. 

There is also a penalty if you underpay your estimated tax. This is the federal short-term interest rate plus 1.5% but at least 7.5%. 

Tax Warrants in New York State

The state can issue tax warrants against people and businesses that have unpaid tax liabilities. A tax warrant creates a lien against your real and personal assets. It also gives the state the right to levy your assets. Because the lien is a public record, lenders will usually not give you loans, and if you sell your assets, the proceeds (up to the balance of your tax debt, penalties, and interest) will go to the state.

The state also publishes the top 250 individual and business taxpayers with warrants against them. Generally, your name will not be published if you set up a payment agreement or work with the DTF to make suitable arrangements for your tax liability. 

Tax Levies in New York

Once a tax warrant has been issued, the state has the right to levy your assets. Most commonly, New York seizes your bank accounts, but the DTF also has the right to seize payments from third parties such as rent payments. If you’re a business taxpayer, the DTF can seize cash on hand or business assets such as inventory or equipment. 

New York State Income Execution

The DTF can garnish your wages through an income execution. First, the state asks you to voluntarily pay 10% of your wages. If you don’t, the DTF will send a notice to your employer, and they will withhold up to 10% of your gross wages to send to the DTF. This is also called a wage levy. 

Asset Seizures

If you have unpaid taxes in New York, the DTF can seize your real or personal property. If you are a business taxpayer, the DTF agents can lock your place of business and deny you entry. They can also remove all of your merchandise. 

The DTF will notify you of the auction time and place if your property has been seized. You can get the property back if you pay in full or make other arrangements for your tax debt. At this point, you must pay the tax, interest, and penalties plus the expenses incurred in the seizure and auction. 

Loss of Business Licenses and Certificates

The DTF can revoke your business licenses if you have unpaid taxes. If you posted a bond to get the license, the state has the right to liquidate the bond and apply the proceeds to your tax bill. To get a new license, you will need to post a new bond. 

If you don’t pay your sales tax bill, the DTF can revoke your Certificate of Authority. Without this certificate, you cannot legally sell products or services subject to sales tax. 

The department normally has three years from the date you filed a return or the due date if later to assess taxes against you. Similarly, you have three years from a return due date to file for a refund. If tax fraud was involved or you understated your income by 25%, the state can go back six years. There is no statute of limitations on unfiled returns. 

The state can take up to 20 years to collect unpaid tax debts. NYS tax warrants also last for 20 years. This is in contrast to the IRS which has a 10-year statute of limitations on tax debt collection. 

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