Once tax return documentation is accepted, individuals can receive their federal refund by direct deposit or a paper check sent by mail. The government also provides the option of applying the refund towards a U.S. Series I savings bond.
When arranging a direct-deposit payment, individuals can have the refund split and distributed in up to three accounts. The refund allocation is specified on Form 8888, enabling deposits into checking, savings and IRA accounts.
The waiting period to receive a tax refund depends on the method used to file the tax return. An electronically filed return with no mistakes is usually processed and paid out within 21 days of acceptance, while mailed documentation may take six to eight weeks to process. Errors or missing information can lead to a rejection, requiring the individual to resubmit the return with updated details.
The Where's My Refund? section of the Internal Revenue Service website allows users to check the status of a submitted return. E-filed returns can be tracked within 24 hours of submission, while a mailed return's status is accessible within four weeks. The same information can also be obtained using the IRS refund hotline or free IRS2Go mobile application, as of 2015.