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When Do You Get 2018 Tax Returns? It Depends On How You Filed

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Somewhere between the winter and spring season lies a fifth season for all of us living in the United States — tax season. It's a time filled with confusion and stress, but at the end of it all (hopefully) we can all get a refund check out of it — which makes the exhaustion of tax season worth it. If you've been patiently waiting for that government check to roll in like I've been, you are definitely not alone. So when can you expect your 2018 tax returns to come in?

It all really depends on exactly when you filed, and more importantly how you filed. There are two ways to submit your taxes to the IRS — electronically and online. Obviously, the time it takes to get both sent in is vastly different, so the time it takes to get your return in is different as well. So if you're wondering when you'll exactly get that extra cash in, I am here to break it down for you.

Let's start if you've filed your taxes electronically, which is probably the most likely situation. If you submitted online, you can check the status of your tax return within 24 hours. But if you filed the old fashioned way, you'll have to wait four weeks until you can check the status of your return. You can check how your return is progressing by visiting the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) "Where's My Refund?" page. Once your return is received it typically takes the IRS 21 business days to process your paperwork. So again, every situation is going to be different.

The good news is that you can visit that refund status site to track how your return is coming along pretty much in real time. Once your taxes are received, you'll be able to see in which of the three process stages your paperwork is in. The first stage is that the IRS has confirmed that your taxes are in. The second stage is confirming that your refund has been approved, which hopefully will be the case!

The third stage is confirming that your refund has been sent. If you went the direct deposit route, you should be able to see your refund in your account within a few days, depending on how quickly your bank processes those transfers. But if you opted to get a paper check, the IRS provides the date that the check was mailed, so keep an eye out on your mailbox. If you haven't gotten your return though, the IRS says to wait until April 24 to contact their office to sort it out.

If you're also expecting a state income tax return and want to learn the status of that check, you can do so by visiting the U.S. Tax Center's return status page via the IRS. Just scroll down and click your state, and the site will redirect you to your state government's page where you can check the same way you checked your federal tax return. In my experience, my state returns always take a little bit longer to process than my federal return, so you'll have to be a bit more patient with this check. My state refunds are always less than my federal ones, so as long as I get the big check I can wait a couple of extra weeks for the other.

Tax season is definitely not everyone's favorite time of year. But it all becomes worth it once that sweet, sweet refund comes in the mail or shows up in your account. I know it's annoying that this process does take a lot of time and patience. But as the saying goes, good things never come easy.