An Overview of What Happens When IRS Accepts Your Returns

Indeed, most of you must have thought about “What does it mean when the IRS accepts my tax returns?” There is more to the IRS acceptance status than you know; in reality, it is only just the first step of claiming your refund.

If you didn’t know, there is an entire process involved between the time you send in your tax returns and await the collection of your refund.

In this guide, we enlighten you on a few things you should expect from your refund approval process and what really happens when the IRS accepts your return.

How is the process?


When you receive a notification or confirmation stating that the IRS has accepted your return, it simply means that the IRS has reviewed the return, and has now passed the very first round of inspection. The “Accepted” status also means that your tax return is in the hands of the government now.

The IRS verifies all your personal information and other general items, such as if somebody has already claimed your dependents.

Following this, the next step is to have the government approve your refund. It will take a few days for your refund to be approved. Meanwhile, they will be taking a more in-depth look at your history and your method of filing for the return.

If there are any outstanding debts as such, they will simply compensate or diminish your refund to cover the unpaid sum. If they are satisfied with the fact that there are no more outstanding debts, they will approve the process and soon issue your refund.

Is it faster to send my Return via mail or file it electronically?

It is technically much faster and more efficient to file your returns via electronic means. The IRS will receive electronically filed returns much faster than the returns that have been mailed in. Moreover, filing returns electronically ultimately reduces the time between submitting your return and actually receiving your refund.

What Follows Next?

After your return has passed the initial inspection and been accepted by the IRS, it will review everything in more detail. You must know that even though the IRS has accepted your return, it still needs to be processed before you can obtain the funds. A few common errors that usually show up in the next round include:

  • Illegible writing
  • Making the wrong calculations
  • Not identifying the negative amounts correctly
  • Entering information on the wrong line
  • Failure to attach a check or a W-2 for the taxes due
  • Claiming the incorrect number of exemptions
  • Claiming more than one filing status.

The IRS also keeps a check and comparison on all returns for any possible case of fraud or identity theft. If you submit your file electronically, the IRS system can detect the errors more quickly.

With paper returns, it takes much longer. The IRS fixes a few errors itself, such as incorrectly added figures. Or, it might alert you that the agency requires more data.

Knowing About Return Acceptance or Rejection

If the IRS rejects your return, it will surely provide you some form of explanation as to what the problem was. Usually, rejection problems with electronically filed returns include:

  • Misspelling your name.
  • Providing incorrect Social Security numbers.
  • Missing out of one of the necessary forms.

Here, you will be asked to fix the problem and resubmit your return.

However, sometimes, there are deeper issues involved. If the Social Security number of the dependent is flagged, it might indicate that your dependent has already been claimed by somebody else. This could either be an attempt at fraud or an honest mistake.

Suppose you are unable to detect any valid reason for the duplicate Social Security number that can help fix the return. In that case, you will be asked to submit a return in hard-copy to the IRS instead of filing it online.

READ MORE: When and Why Banks Report Check Deposits to IRS?

How soon can I get the refund?

Usually, most refunds are issued by the IRS under 21 days, starting from the day the IRS accepts your return. However, a few things are likely going to affect the duration of when you can receive your refund. These include:

  • The method you chose for sending your return.

If you send your return electronically, it enables the IRS to process your returns much faster than when you mail in your returns.

  • The time you filed it.

The earlier you file in your returns, the earlier IRS can process your returns.

  • The credits you claimed.

By claiming a few credits, your refunds can likely be postponed.

Reporting and Tracking Your Return

Electronically filed returns can be tracked within 24 hours after the IRS has accepted them. People who have mailed their returns will have to wait for at least a month. Moreover, the IRS does not send any notification or acceptance confirmation for paper returns.

You can use the IRS: Where is my Refund Tool for tracking your returns. Technically, you will need to wait for at least three weeks after automated filing or six weeks after submitting a paper return.

IRS tax return status tool

This transcript does not tell you the return’s status. It might include information on how your account is getting processed, but you will not get any definite processing timeline.