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Will the Coronavirus Pandemic Delay My Tax Refund?

The IRS says no, with most federal refunds being issued within 21 days

Man's hands removing a US Government Treasury check from envelope
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If you're worried that the coronavirus pandemic will delay your federal income tax refund, rest easy.

The average income tax refund is $2,973 so far this year, with more than 59 million refunds already processed, and the Internal Revenue Service says that it doesn't anticipate any delays in issuing additional refunds. The IRS issues 9 out of 10 refunds within 21 days. You can track the progress of your refund with the Where's My Refund? tool operated by the IRS. You'll need your Social Security number, tax status and exact amount of your refund to use the tool.

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Even though you now have until July 15 to file your tax return, the sooner you file, the sooner you'll get your refund if you're owed one. The fastest way to get your refund is with direct deposit, through which your refund is deposited electronically to your designated account at your bank, credit union or other financial institution.

You can direct that your refund be divided between up to three accounts — a handy feature if you want to save some of your refund for an emergency fund or some other future use. You can use tax software to split up your refund, or, if you file a paper return, you'll need IRS Form 8888.

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If you want a check in the mail, the IRS will still send you one. You'll just have to wait longer for it. And, in case you're concerned, “there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail,” according to the U.S. Postal Service.

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AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

membership-card-w-shadow-192x134

AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.