Taxpayers can use the Where's My Refund tool on the IRS.gov website or the IRS2Go mobile app to check their tax refund status within 24 hours after the IRS receives their electronic tax return or four weeks after they send a paper return by mail, reports the Internal Revenue Service. If taxpayers are unable to use the online refund tools, they can call the IRS 21 days after sending an electronic return or six weeks after mailing a paper return.
Taxpayers only need to check online once a day, as the IRS doesn't update the data more often than that, explains the IRS. The refund tools follow refunds through several stages of return received, return approved and refund sent. Return received means that the IRS got the return safely and has initiated processing it. At this stage, if there is any problem or anything missing from the return, the IRS sends a letter by mail and requests the taxpayer to clarify information, correct mistakes or supply additional documents. To receive a refund as soon as possible, the taxpayer should promptly comply with any instructions in the letter.
Once the IRS has received and approved all corrections and documents, the status shifts to return approved, according to the IRS. At this stage, the IRS prepares to send the refund in whatever way the taxpayer stipulates. When the status shows refund sent, the IRS has sent the refund either by direct deposit to the taxpayer's account or via a paper check by mail. Direct deposit refunds take one to five days to arrive, but mailed checks may take several weeks.