To figure out the status of your state tax refund (i.e. when your refund will arrive), you must first take into account how you sent in your state income tax return. Depending on the filing method you chose, you can get a ballpark estimate of when to expect your tax refund.
If you send a paper tax return to your state’s department of revenue (or whichever agency administers and collects your state taxes) through the mail, you should expect a much longer wait for your state refund than if you file electronically (also known as “e-filing”).
Generally, a paper tax return sent via mail can mean that you have to wait up to eight weeks for your tax refund to arrive. This is due to waiting for the document to make its way through the Postal Service system, as well as longer processing times for paper tax forms. On the other hand, taxpayers who e-file may get their tax refund in as little as three weeks after e-filing their return — probably before they even find themselves asking, “Where’s my refund?”
When contemplating the arrival date of your state tax refund, you should also consider when you submitted your state tax return. If you filed closer to the end of the tax season — which may be on or near the April 15 federal filing deadline, depending on your state — be patient with checking your state refund status. Remember that your state’s department of taxation will be more swamped than usual during this time, and there might be a delay in sending out your tax refund simply because of volume.
How to Check the Status of Your State Tax Refund
If you e-filed your state tax return and your are wondering about the status of your state tax refund, you might be able to simply check with your state's department of taxation. Depending on the state(s) for which you are required to file an income tax return (i.e. where you reside and/or earn money), you can most likely check the status of your state refund online or via phone. Most state taxing authorities should be able to give you a general update on your state tax refund status and let you know if refunds are behind schedule that year.
Before you can access the confidential data concerning your state tax refund, you will be asked to provide some personal information. This information can be found on the state income tax return that you filed. It may include the following:
- Your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
- Your filing status
- The exact (whole dollar) amount of your state tax refund
You will need to have this information ready in order to determine your state tax refund status. Keep in mind, you will not be able to find out where your tax refund is if you cannot provide the correct amount of your refund.
Taxpayers who sent their return through the mail may have to wait longer for news about their state tax refund status, as opposed to those who e-file their return. If you are curious about where your state refund is, and you feel you have waited an appropriate amount of time, try calling or emailing your state’s department of taxation.
If it’s an available option, you can consider going online to use your state’s tax refund status checker. Much like the IRS’s online tool (known as the “Where’s My Refund?” system), many state government websites also provide a way for taxpayers to find out when they can expect receive their state tax refund.