Refunds on electronically filed federal income tax returns are issued in 21 days or less for more than 90 percent of returns, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Mailed-in returns take up to six weeks to process. If a refund takes longer than this, check the IRS website.
As of 2014, the IRS website has a Where's My Refund link that is updated daily with information about income tax refunds. To access this information, taxpayers need the primary social security number on the return, the filing status and the amount of the expected refund. The site shows several stages of the refund process, including when the return is received, when the refund is approved and when the refund is sent.
Refunds are delayed if the return requires additional review. When the IRS changes the return or needs additional information from the taxpayer, it sends a letter to the address on the return.