2018 IRS Tax Refund Processing Schedule and Direct Deposit Cycle Chart for 2017 Return Filings


2017 IRS refund-schedule[Update for 2017-18 Tax Filing Season] Below is the latest table showing estimated 20172018 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 by the IRS. For refund dates specific to your tax filing go to the Where is my Refund (WMR) page or IRS2Go mobile application. Also note that for the upcoming tax season, existing IRS tables and rules are in place. The GOP/Trump tax reform changes will start in 2018 and be valid when filing in 2019.

Note that Jan 29th 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.

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

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 Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) 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 timeframes 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 ~7000 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.

Tax Return Accepted by IRS After
(WMR status = Return Received)
IRS Refund Accepted BeforeEstimated Refund Date (via Direct Deposit)Estimated Refund Date (via Paper Check)
January 29, 2018February 4, 2018February 16, 2018March 2, 2018
February 5, 2018February 11, 2018February 23, 2018March 9, 2018
February 12, 2018February 18, 2018March 2, 2018March 16, 2018
February 19, 2018February 25, 2018March 9, 2018March 23, 2018
February 26, 2018March 4, 2018March 16, 2018March 30, 2018
March 5, 2018March 11, 2018March 23, 2018April 6, 2018
March 12, 2018March 18, 2018March 30, 2018April 13, 2018
March 19, 2018March 25, 2018April 6, 2018April 20, 2018
March 26, 2018April 1, 2018April 13, 2018April 27, 2018
April 2, 2018April 8, 2018April 20, 2018May 4, 2018
April 9, 2018April 15, 2018April 27, 2018May 11, 2018
April 16, 2018April 22, 2018May 4, 2018May 18, 2018
April 23, 2018April 29, 2018May 11, 2018May 25, 2018
April 30, 2018May 6, 2018May 18, 2018June 1, 2018
May 7, 2018May 13, 2018May 25, 2018June 8, 2018
May 14, 2018May 20, 2018June 1, 2018June 15, 2018
May 21, 2018May 27, 2018June 8, 2018June 22, 2018
May 28, 2018June 3, 2018June 15, 2018June 29, 2018
June 4, 2018June 10, 2018June 22, 2018July 6, 2018
June 11, 2018June 17, 2018June 29, 2018July 13, 2018
June 18, 2018June 24, 2018July 6, 2018July 20, 2018
June 25, 2018July 1, 2018July 13, 2018July 27, 2018
July 2, 2018July 8, 2018July 20, 2018August 3, 2018
July 9, 2018July 15, 2018July 27, 2018August 10, 2018
July 16, 2018July 22, 2018August 3, 2018August 17, 2018
July 23, 2018July 29, 2018August 10, 2018August 24, 2018
July 30, 2018August 5, 2018August 17, 2018August 31, 2018
August 6, 2018August 12, 2018August 24, 2018September 7, 2018
August 13, 2018August 19, 2018August 31, 2018September 14, 2018
August 20, 2018August 26, 2018September 7, 2018September 21, 2018
August 27, 2018September 2, 2018September 14, 2018September 28, 2018
September 3, 2018September 9, 2018September 21, 2018October 5, 2018
September 10, 2018September 16, 2018September 28, 2018October 12, 2018
September 17, 2018September 23, 2018October 5, 2018October 19, 2018
September 24, 2018September 30, 2018October 12, 2018October 26, 2018
October 1, 2018October 7, 2018October 19, 2018November 2, 2018
October 8, 2018October 14, 2018October 26, 2018November 9, 2018
October 15, 2018October 21, 2018November 2, 2018November 16, 2018
October 22, 2018October 28, 2018November 9, 2018November 23, 2018
October 29, 2018November 4, 2018November 16, 2018November 30, 2018
November 5, 2018November 11, 2018November 23, 2018December 7, 2018
November 12, 2018November 18, 2018November 30, 2018December 14, 2018
November 19, 2018November 25, 2018December 7, 2018December 21, 2018
November 26, 2018December 2, 2018December 14, 2018December 28, 2018
December 3, 2018December 9, 2018December 21, 2018January 4, 2019
December 10, 2018December 16, 2018December 28, 2018January 11, 2019
December 17, 2018December 23, 2018January 4, 2019January 18, 2019
December 24, 2018December 30, 2018January 11, 2019January 25, 2019
December 31, 2018January 6, 2019January 18, 2019February 1, 2019
January 7, 2019January 13, 2019January 25, 2019February 8, 2019

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.

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