2021 IRS Tax Refund Processing Schedule and Direct Deposit Cycle Chart – When Will I Get My 2020 Refund!

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This article was last updated on April 1

[2021 IRS refund schedule] While the 2019-2020 tax season was much longer than planned due to Coronavirus/COVID related impacts, we can expect it to return somewhat to normal in 2021. However due to the payment of two round of stimulus checks (recovery rebate credits) by the IRS and some additional tax legislation to update (EITC income years) the IRS has had to push out the start of processing tax returns by 2 to 3 weeks to Friday, February 12, 2021 per their latest announcement. This is 2 to 3 weeks later than when they normally start processing in late January as originally estimated. The IRS has also announced they have delayed the end of the tax season to May 17th, 2021 due to new legislation under the Biden ARP bill that required them to issue additional stimulus payments and provide expanded tax credits.

Tax payers can still submit and file their return with their preferred provider (we recommend Turbo Tax) but the IRS won’t begin processing and paying returns until after February 12th, 2021. The estimated 2020-2021 refund processing schedule table below has been updated to reflect this, including the extension to the season.

It is likely to be a very busy 2020-21 tax season with many people filing and claiming their missing stimulus check payments (especially dependent stimulus’) via recovery rebate credits. So even though the IRS is only starting processing in mid-February, if you get your key tax documents (see due dates) you should submit and file your return so that top of the queue when the IRS starts accepting and processing tax returns. This should ensure that your refund is also processed as soon as possible.

According to the IRS in 2020, they received more than 167.2 million individual returns and issued more than 124.8 million refunds for more than $314.5 billion. This number is expected to increase to over 175 million in 2021 due to the claiming of missed stimulus payments as a recovery rebate credit in tax filings.

Below is the latest table showing estimated tax season refund payment dates based on past refund cycles and IRS guidelines. It shows the date your refund will be processed and paid based on the week your return is accepted and approved by the IRS. For refund dates specific to your tax filing go to the Where is my Refund (WMR) page or use the IRS2Go mobile application.

Note that as in previous years, if you claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) your refund may be delayed beyond the standard processing times shown below. This is to allow for fraud and dependent verification processing required by law. Based on IRS guidance you can returns with EITC and ACTC claim won’t see any potential refunds prior to the first week of March 2021.

You can also see earlier updates from prior tax seasons and the over 8000 comments around dealing with delayed tax refund processing! So stay tuned and subscribe to get the latest updates and helpful articles for the upcoming tax season. I also post regular Youtube video updates on Tax related topics like this article.

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2020 IRS Tax Refund Processing Schedule in 2021

Start Date Tax Return Accepted by IRS (WMR status = Return Received)IRS Refund Accepted Week Ending Date (WMR status = Refund Approved)Estimated Refund Date (via Direct Deposit)Estimated Refund Date (via Paper Check)
February 12, 2021February 21, 2021March 5, 2021March 19, 2021
February 22, 2021February 28, 2021March 12, 2021March 26, 2021
March 1, 2021March 7, 2021March 19, 2021April 2, 2021
March 8, 2021March 14, 2021March 26, 2021April 9, 2021
March 15, 2021March 21, 2021April 2, 2021April 16, 2021
March 22, 2021March 28, 2021April 9, 2021April 23, 2021
March 29, 2021April 4, 2021April 16, 2021April 30, 2021
April 5, 2021April 11, 2021April 23, 2021May 7, 2021
April 12, 2021April 18, 2021April 30, 2021May 14, 2021
April 19, 2021April 25, 2021May 7, 2021May 21, 2021
April 26, 2021May 2, 2021May 14, 2021May 28, 2021
May 3, 2021May 9, 2021May 21, 2021June 4, 2021
May 10, 2021May 16, 2021May 28, 2021June 11, 2021
May 17, 2021May 23, 2021June 4, 2021June 18, 2021
May 24, 2021May 30, 2021June 11, 2021June 25, 2021
May 31, 2021June 6, 2021June 18, 2021July 2, 2021
June 7, 2021June 13, 2021June 25, 2021July 9, 2021
June 14, 2021June 20, 2021July 2, 2021July 16, 2021
June 21, 2021June 27, 2021July 9, 2021July 23, 2021
June 28, 2021July 4, 2021July 16, 2021July 30, 2021
July 5, 2021July 11, 2021July 23, 2021August 6, 2021
July 12, 2021July 18, 2021July 30, 2021August 13, 2021
July 19, 2021July 25, 2021August 6, 2021August 20, 2021
July 26, 2021August 1, 2021August 13, 2021August 27, 2021
August 2, 2021August 8, 2021August 20, 2021September 3, 2021
August 9, 2021August 15, 2021August 27, 2021September 10, 2021
August 16, 2021August 22, 2021September 3, 2021September 17, 2021
August 23, 2021August 29, 2021September 10, 2021September 24, 2021
August 30, 2021September 5, 2021September 17, 2021October 1, 2021
September 6, 2021September 12, 2021September 24, 2021October 8, 2021
September 13, 2021September 19, 2021October 1, 2021October 15, 2021
September 20, 2021September 26, 2021October 8, 2021October 22, 2021
September 27, 2021October 3, 2021October 15, 2021October 29, 2021
October 4, 2021October 10, 2021October 22, 2021November 5, 2021
October 11, 2021October 17, 2021October 29, 2021November 12, 2021
October 18, 2021October 24, 2021November 5, 2021November 19, 2021
October 25, 2021October 31, 2021November 12, 2021November 26, 2021
November 1, 2021November 7, 2021November 19, 2021December 3, 2021
November 8, 2021November 14, 2021November 26, 2021December 10, 2021
November 15, 2021November 21, 2021December 3, 2021December 17, 2021
November 22, 2021November 28, 2021December 10, 2021December 24, 2021
November 29, 2021December 5, 2021December 17, 2021December 31, 2021
December 6, 2021December 12, 2021December 24, 2021January 7, 2022
December 13, 2021December 19, 2021December 31, 2021January 14, 2022
December 20, 2021December 26, 2021January 7, 2022January 21, 2022
December 27, 2021January 2, 2022January 14, 2022January 28, 2022
January 3, 2022January 9, 2022January 21, 2022February 4, 2022

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[COVID-19 impact update] The IRS has announced, under the national emergency provision to tackle the Coronavirus, that they will postpone the April 15 tax-payment deadline for millions of individuals, giving Americans an additional 90 days, to July 15, to pay file and pay their 2019 income-tax bills in an unprecedented move intended to ease the economic pain inflicted by the coronavirus outbreak. Further, because the IRS is now focused on paying out the 2020 economic stimulus payments and supporting the new UI stimulus measures in place with other agencies, refund payments will likely be delayed well past the estimated dates shown in the table below. Many readers have reported this and while it is very frustrating, there is not much that can be done given the economic fallout from the virus and soaring unemployment claims.

2019-2020 Tax Refund Processing Schedule

Tax Return Accepted by IRS After
(WMR status = Return Received)
IRS Refund Approved
(WMR status = Refund Approved)
Estimated Refund Date (via Direct Deposit)Estimated Refund Date (via Paper Check)
January 27, 2020February 2, 2020February 14, 2020February 28, 2020
February 3, 2020February 9, 2020February 21, 2020March 6, 2020
February 10, 2020February 16, 2020February 28, 2020March 13, 2020
February 17, 2020February 23, 2020March 6, 2020March 20, 2020
February 24, 2020March 1, 2020March 13, 2020March 27, 2020
March 2, 2020March 8, 2020March 20, 2020April 3, 2020
March 9, 2020March 15, 2020March 27, 2020April 10, 2020
March 16, 2020March 22, 2020April 3, 2020April 17, 2020
March 23, 2020March 29, 2020April 10, 2020April 24, 2020
March 30, 2020April 5, 2020April 17, 2020May 1, 2020
April 6, 2020April 12, 2020April 24, 2020May 8, 2020
April 13, 2020April 19, 2020May 1, 2020May 15, 2020
April 20, 2020April 26, 2020May 8, 2020May 22, 2020
April 27, 2020May 3, 2020May 15, 2020May 29, 2020
May 4, 2020May 10, 2020May 22, 2020June 5, 2020
May 11, 2020May 17, 2020May 29, 2020June 12, 2020
May 18, 2020May 24, 2020June 5, 2020June 19, 2020
May 25, 2020May 31, 2020June 12, 2020June 26, 2020
June 1, 2020June 7, 2020June 19, 2020July 3, 2020
June 8, 2020June 14, 2020June 26, 2020July 10, 2020
June 15, 2020June 21, 2020July 3, 2020July 17, 2020
June 22, 2020June 28, 2020July 10, 2020July 24, 2020
June 29, 2020July 5, 2020July 17, 2020July 31, 2020
July 6, 2020July 12, 2020July 24, 2020August 7, 2020
July 13, 2020July 19, 2020July 31, 2020August 14, 2020
July 20, 2020July 26, 2020August 7, 2020August 21, 2020
July 27, 2020August 2, 2020August 14, 2020August 28, 2020
August 3, 2020August 9, 2020August 21, 2020September 4, 2020
August 10, 2020August 16, 2020August 28, 2020September 11, 2020
August 17, 2020August 23, 2020September 4, 2020September 18, 2020
August 24, 2020August 30, 2020September 11, 2020September 25, 2020
August 31, 2020September 6, 2020September 18, 2020October 2, 2020
September 7, 2020September 13, 2020September 25, 2020October 9, 2020
September 14, 2020September 20, 2020October 2, 2020October 16, 2020
September 21, 2020September 27, 2020October 9, 2020October 23, 2020
September 28, 2020October 4, 2020October 16, 2020October 30, 2020
October 5, 2020October 11, 2020October 23, 2020November 6, 2020
October 12, 2020October 18, 2020October 30, 2020November 13, 2020
October 19, 2020October 25, 2020November 6, 2020November 20, 2020
October 26, 2020November 1, 2020November 13, 2020November 27, 2020
November 2, 2020November 8, 2020November 20, 2020December 4, 2020
November 9, 2020November 15, 2020November 27, 2020December 11, 2020
November 16, 2020November 22, 2020December 4, 2020December 18, 2020
November 23, 2020November 29, 2020December 11, 2020December 25, 2020
November 30, 2020December 6, 2020December 18, 2020January 1, 2021
December 7, 2020December 13, 2020December 25, 2020January 8, 2021
December 14, 2020December 20, 2020January 1, 2021January 15, 2021
December 21, 2020December 27, 2020January 8, 2021January 22, 2021
December 28, 2020January 3, 2021January 15, 2021January 29, 2021
January 4, 2021January 10, 2021January 22, 2021February 5, 2021

Check back regularly and if the information here was useful please consider sharing this page via Facebook, Twitter or your other social media channels.

Note that Jan 27th is when the IRS E-file system will start processing electronic and paper tax returns. Even if you submitted before this date, don’t expect refund processing and payments to take place beforehand.

EITC and ACTC Related Tax Refund Delays (PATH) Update: As in previous tax seasons a number of tax payers will see refund processing delays. The IRS had already announced that it will have to hold/delay refund payments for people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Child Tax Credit (CTC) due to additional anti-fraud safeguards/reviews under newly enacted laws (PATH Act). But the IRS is now processing refunds which were originally being held up due to PATH mandates. You should no longer be seeing the PATH message as a blocker to get your refund processed and paid. If held up for other reasons (see below) you will get the applicable message/follow-up action.

The federal IRS refund schedule table below is only for electronically filed returns (e-file) done thorough online tax software providers and assumes your tax return was in order. I.e accepted by the IRS via the WMR tool and status is equal to “Return Received”. Paper filed returns can take considerably longer and would add 1 to 2 weeks to the time frames below. Again, use the the tax refund chart below as a guideline and refer to the IRS WMR tool for specific time frames related to your return.

Also note that it could take much longer to get your refund if the IRS deems your tax return submission needs further reviews or your identity needs to be verified. This would add two to nine weeks to the date range of your refund delivery date.

For those impacted by tax refund delays (and it will be a lot this year) make sure you also scroll through some of the 8500+ comments below this article from current and prior years for further ideas/support, including some useful tips and tricks to find out your refund status if you are not getting much insight from the IRS WMR tool. So hang in there if you are dealing with extended delays for getting for your federal tax refund. You are not alone.

For those experiencing ongoing issues or delays with their refunds check out this article on “Why is it taking so long to get my refund.” The IRS has said that  phone and walk-in representatives can research the status of your refund only if it’s been 21 days or more since you filed electronically, more than 6 weeks since you mailed your paper return or if the IRS tool Where’s My Refund? directs you to contact them. The WMR tool will also provide an actual refund date as soon as the IRS processes your tax return and approves your refund. If your refund is taking much longer than the above schedule, and assuming your return was accepted by the IRS, please leave a comment below for the benefit of other readers. I can try digging into the reasons if a few people are seeing delays.

Help! My WMR status bar has disappeared – Does this mean by return is still being processed and/or will my refund be delayed?

As many folks have commented, the WMR tracker status bar may disappear or not be shown if your return falls under IRS review after it is received (Status Bar 1: Return Received) because additional information is needed for your return. This can happen even if you previously checked WMR and it showed the status as “Return Received.”  An explanation or instructions will be provided depending on the situation (eg PATH message or see Tax Topic 152 as discussed below)

But don’t panic when this happens. The IRS still has your return but things are essentially on hold until the IRS gets the additional information from you to continue processing your return . You will either get directions on WMR or IRS2Go or the IRS will contact you by mail. Follow the provided instructions and return any additional information ASAP to get your potential refund and reduce any further delays. Talk to your accountant, tax advocate or tax professional if you are not clear on what the IRS is asking for or you don’t get an update after 21 days.

WMR Path, Tax Topic 152 and 151 message 

Two of the most common refund related messages showing up on the WMR tool after your tax return is submitted are the PATH message and to Refer to Tax Topic 152. The PATH message relates to the The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act (PATH Act of 2015) and is to notify you that the IRS is required to hold refunds claiming the EITC/ACTC until Feb. 15 as described above due to further identity verification.

When you see the “Refer to Tax Topic 152” message it means your refund is being processed and the IRS is directing you its generic refund page for more information. There is not much you can do but wait to see if the IRS finds any issues or requires further verification of your identity or items in your tax return. See the various reader comments below on timing and their experience after getting this and other WMR messages.

A Tax Topic 151 message simply means that you’re getting a tax offset which may result in your refund being less than you expected. The reason for this is that the federal government has “offset” or deducted monies from your tax refund to cover debts you owe other federal agencies. You will get an official IRS letter/report explaining the actual offset and adjustments to your tax return, and details on how to appeal this action – but likely it will delay you getting your refund. While not great news, the silver lining here is that the IRS has processed your return and your adjusted refund (where applicable) should be on its way.

If I can order my IRS tax transcript does it mean I am getting my refund soon?

This question comes up a lot and I have seen a few comments on this suggesting that that if you can order your transcript then your refund is on the way. But this is not a factual statement. Yes there is a correlation because to get a transcript the IRS generally has to have processed your tax return (and refund where applicable). But the IRS is very clear that being able to request a transcript does not mean you will imminently be getting a refund and is among the common myths and misconceptions repeated in social media. The IRS’ official line is that checking the WMR tool is the best and official way to check your refund status.

However I have read a number of comments here and on other tax sites saying that when the WMR site provides limited information on the refund, requesting a free IRS transcript seems to be another way of checking the status of the refund. Generally if you can request a transcript, it means the refund is on the way and the IRS has completed processing of your tax return. But this is all anecdotal evidence.

A note about IRS system issues and refund delays

It appears that the IRS is again having issues with processing returns in a timely manner and so a number of people are seeing delays in getting their refunds or updates in the status of their refund on the WMR tool/app. The IRS has said that all system issues have now been resolved but given the various legacy systems they have and volume of processing I would not be surprised to see system problems arise again this year, which mean delays in processing and paying refunds.

See here for average refund amounts in past tax seasons and refund processing times by state

Amended Tax Return Refund Schedule

While the IRS promises to have regular return refunds processed within 21 days for nine out of ten tax payers, it does take quite a bit longer to receive a refund if you amended your tax return. Generally you will have to wait 8 to 12 weeks more for the IRS to process amended returns since they prioritize regular returns. Also note that the standard”Where’s my refund” service from the IRS does not track amended tax return status’. You need to instead use the IRS tool, Where’s My Amended Return.” You can also access the tool via phone by calling 1-866-464-2050.  Only call the IRS to follow up on delayed amended return refunds after 12 weeks. The number to call is 1-800-829-1040.

I will continue to update this article and encourage you to check back regularly. If the information here was useful please consider sharing this page via Facebook, Twitter or your other social media channels.

3,921 thoughts on “2021 IRS Tax Refund Processing Schedule and Direct Deposit Cycle Chart – When Will I Get My 2020 Refund!

  1. Hello my name Octavia I started filling my taxes the second week of February 13 got approved. went to the website still in process. try calling no answer says still in process. Been more than 21 days still waiting.

  2. Same here. Filed Feb 12, accepted Feb 13. Bars have disappeared. Calling the number does not help. Says call back even at 7 AM. I’m at my wits end with no answers. My daughters all filed the same day and got theirs back within 2 weeks. The only dependent I claimed this year was my 16 year old son. My ex didn’t even put our son on his and he’s already received his return within 2 weeks and he filed 3 weeks after I did. This is so frustrating. There is no reason not to have the return paid yet.

    1. I’m Living in the streets out here they don’t care as u can see im one of them

  3. I filed my taxes on 2/21 and they were accepted on 2/22 well it happened just like it has to a lot of other people that it’s still being processed.. I call the irs for a couple weeks now and finally got threw to them today and was told I probably won’t receive tell around may 7th due to they are still working on peoples 2019 taxes !!!!! How is it our fault that these people want to file taxes because they can get a stimulus check!?!!?!

  4. I filed 2/16 (CTC/EITC)
    Have gotten no notice they need anything and status still says “still being processed.” I am a teacher, single mom of 3 and I could really use “my” money to pay bills. I agree with other poster who states IRS always has to get their money and interest right away, we should get ours just the same.

    1. I still have no word of any kind. I spend hours of each day running around the same pointless circle. No stimulus no return. Been accepted since February 13th 2021.

      1. I did the same thing and nothing now I lose my car about to b kicked out i owe about 4,000 in rent and they don’t care i did get no stimulus checks i about to b in the stress

        1. I hate this. Never had I imagined being so helpless feeling financially. Honestly I hate to say that had my mom not passed away in December & left me the money she did with life insurance I’d already have lost my home & vehicle… This all makes no sense.

  5. This number is no longer accepting calls either. I need to talk to an agent. Accepted 2/12 and still nothing.

  6. After reading many comments seems like early filers are having issues.. I did have my return reviewed last year and it was almost 4 months before I received my refund. However, this year I filed 3/23/21 through Turbo Tax, same way I’ve filed for 15 years, return was accepted same day within 2 hours and I checked both my Federal and State ( South Carolina) both are in last stage on bars.. with federal DD date of 3/31. SC updates every Wednesday and usually is within 2 days of Fed DD, consistent with my returns in the past. I’m assuming my state will be DD by 4/1.

    1. Hello what do you mean both are in last stage on bars? How do you check that

  7. Both my husband and I’s (with Child Tax) and my son’s (with EIC) returns were filed on February 2 and accepted on February 12. Bars went away a week later and since then, NOTHING! So frustrating that they can’t even give us a general time frame or update. Absolutely incompetent! How are we supposed to ever trust them again after this??!

  8. I filed Jan 28, 2021
    Accepted Feb 11, 2021
    Had 1 bar for about a week and then it disappeared and states return is still being processed. I never had a tax topic.
    I did claim the EITC and CTC.
    Received a ID verify letter 2 weeks ago and verified online. Where’s my refund finally updated over night Last night (3/25/21) from return is still being processed to return is being processed.

    1. Same here.
      Filed February 12th, Accepted February 13th.
      WMR bars, tax topic 152 appears
      WMR bars disappear, still says tax tax topic 152..
      According to my IRS account my return has never been filed, but I can’t efile again anywhere it is automatically kicked out since I have filed a return. So here it is march 28th. No return, can’t get the stimulus because I have no return on file. Couldn’t get the 1st two stimulus because my now deceased mother claimed me as a dependent which was no benefit to her, but prevented me from getting them. Tired of this crap.

  9. My partner and I both filed on 2/1 and both of our returns were accepted on 2/12 without any issues.

    A few days after being accepted, bars disappeared for both of our returns and we were directed to tax topic 152.

    It’s now 3/22 and neither of us have gotten any updates on our returns. Still showing tax topic 152 and we’ve received nothing in the mail saying we need to submit additional information. Because of this, we both missed out on the most recent stimulus.

    Calling the IRS is a waste of time, they’ll just tell you to “be patient” and “wait another week” before calling just in case it updates. Insane.

    1. Something has got to be done about this…..We can not be in the minority where this is happening….I am a single father of 4 after losing my wife to a tragic car accident 4 years ago and raising 4 teenagers is extremely difficult financially so i quickly got my documents together and filed my taxes on 2/1…..started checking the IRS app and around 2/14 it said electronically it has been received…..around 2/28 i started checking again every single day and now it is 4/2 and it is still showing “still being processed” Topic 152….i check the mailbox everyday for any document sent by the IRS that they need further information to verify my identity but nothing ever comes in the mail….How is this even fair that this can happen?? This is OUR MONEY…we overpaid in our taxes and we NEED OUR MONEY now….not when someone decides to take a look at it. No phone support…no answers why its delayed…..Its really frustrating because this money would really help with the impact the COVID has had on our family. Common IRS…do something about this please.

      1. I called the member for the amended tax return it gives me a 18008290582 number with Ext 652 doesn’t tell me where it is just to call the number when I call the number tells me to call exactly at 7am because they have a high call volume any new updates

        1. It told me that i called was on hold for a rep for 30 minutes and the lady told me she had no idea why it told me to call them bc she wasn’t seeing anything on her end that needed verification. And she wasn’t aware of any thing i needed to do to speed the process

    2. Se for my return absolutely no communication at all on what’s going on so extremely frustrating during a time most people need that money.

  10. Looks like a whole lot of us are in this same boat. Filed Jan. 29. Not accepted until Feb. 12. Ever since that time, it is “still being processed.” And, there is no way to reach out and find out what we might have done wrong.

  11. Filed 2019 and 2020 taxes. Both accepted and in process. 3rd stimulus payments went out today. Since the IRS hasn’t updated my 2019 or 2020 bank information, I can’t receive the stimulus. Even though, they have all of the information to distribute the funds. 2020 taxes have been in process since 2/23/21. Refund isn’t the problem, but I really need the stimulus. Is there a “fix” for this? I’ve tried calling, but unable to get through to anyone to get an answer.

    1. I still didn’t get my first similars second one or the third one and I still didn’t get my refund is been past 21 days

    2. Exact same thing here I filed early to get my new van i account on file and they haven’t processed so they sent stimulus to closed account again ! I really needed that money so frustrating and you can’t even get irs on the phone

      1. I’m just going to give up i tried i tried everything nothing i got no were to go can’t pay my car note and all the bills just going to give up

    3. I still have not received my 2019 tax refund. filled July 2020. 9 months-filed electronically. Nothing special about my tax return, no earned income etc. I have called many phone numbers and it appears no .one is answering. All send me back to the Where’s my Refund at irs.gov. I did get 1st and 3rd stimulus check but not the second.

  12. 3/16/21.
    Filed 2/24/21
    Accepted 2/25/21
    WMR bars, tax topic 152 appears
    WMR bars disappear, still says tax tax topic 152 3/15/21
    Transcript says NA for 2020
    I’m in batch 5 for weekly processing.
    Only thing changed from last year is my address. Never taken this long. I had to claim stimulus rebate. I’m a healthcare worker barely making ends meet in Florida. People need this money!

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