What happens at the IRS after you file your taxes?

A Sneak Peak Inside the IRS Processes Post-Tax Season


Once you've filed taxes to the IRS, the subsequent steps can vary based on whether you filed electronically or via mail, the correctness of your return, whether you owe taxes or anticipate a refund, and the possibility of an IRS audit. Below is an overview of the general procedure.

IRS Tax File Processing: Screening Levels

Filing your taxes electronically usually results in quicker processing than by mail.

Typically, electronic filing takes about three weeks to process, whereas filing via mail can extend the processing time to around six weeks. The IRS will scrutinize your return to ensure its accuracy and completeness. In case of any mistakes or omissions, they may contact you to seek clarification or make necessary corrections. Hence, filing accurate tax returns is extremely important.

Ensuring the accuracy and comprehensiveness of tax returns is significant for various reasons, impacting the efficiency and outcomes of the tax filing process. Precise income reporting is vital to avoid penalties associated with underreporting taxes or filing errors. It also facilitates a smoother refund process by reducing the likelihood of audits or reviews, which can be time-consuming and stressful.

On the other hand, completeness in tax returns entails including all relevant information. This is essential for leveraging available deductions and credits and reducing tax liability. The significance of accuracy and thoroughness in tax returns encompasses:

  • Decreasing Audit Risks
  • Expediting Refund Processing
  • Preventing Penalties and Interest Charges
  • Maximising Deductions and Credits
  • Simplifying Future Filings
  • Safeguarding Legal Rights
  • Assisting Tax Professionals
  • Adhering to Tax Laws

If your provided details align with IRS records, your return will likely be approved.

However, if there's a discrepancy, your return may be declined. In such a scenario, you have the option to rectify any errors and submit your return again.

Extend your tax filing by 6 months. 

Here are some various statuses you might see while verifying the acceptance of your tax return:

Return Received 

This shows that the IRS has received your return and is processing it. On average, the IRS can process your return in two business days. 

Refund Approved

Your refund has been processed and approved by the IRS.  

Refund Sent 

Your refund has been issued via direct deposit or by mailing a check to you. If you opt for direct deposit, the IRS will provide the date when the refund was transmitted.

IRS Tax File: Refund or Due Status Assessment

  • If you anticipate receiving a refund and your tax return is error-free, the IRS will process and issue your refund accordingly. You can see the progress of your refund by accessing the IRS website or using their mobile application. 
  • Conversely, if you owe taxes, the IRS will send you a notice specifying the owed amount along with available payment methods.

The IRS endeavours to promptly and effectively review and authorise refunds. Historically, over 90% of refunds are processed and approved within 21 days of e-file acceptance, instilling a sense of anticipation as approval signifies the final step towards the deposit into your bank account.

Refer to the IRS tax file refund schedule: Every tax season, the IRS releases a refund schedule that guides when you can anticipate receiving your refund. Although the IRS doesn't promise specific refund dates, the published schedule accurately estimates when you may receive your direct deposit or refund check.

After e-filing your tax return, you have a few methods to track your refund status:

  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1954 
  • You can use the online IRS Where's My Refund? Tool (fastest option)

The online tool offers personalised refund details based on your tax return processing. Once the IRS processes your return and approves your refund, they will furnish an actual refund date. Typically, refunds are issued in under 21 days.

You can begin monitoring your refund status within 24 hours of e-filing your return. The IRS website updates refund information once a day, typically overnight. It's important to note that e-filing and selecting direct deposit is the swiftest method to receive your refund.

How the IRS Addresses Informational Discrepancies

  • The IRS may review your return through an audit or examination process to ensure the information provided is accurate. This may entail asking for further documentation or details to substantiate the assertions made on your return.
  • Should the IRS identify discrepancies or mistakes during the audit, they may amend your tax liability, which could lead to either owing additional taxes or receiving a lesser refund.
  • The IRS usually has a window of up to three years after you file your return to initiate an audit. However, this timeframe can extend to six years if a significant error is discovered.


During the procedure, the IRS may communicate with you through postal mail concerning your tax return. This correspondence might involve notifications about alterations to your return, inquiries for supplementary details, reminders concerning outstanding payments, or alerts regarding any pertinent matters requiring attention.

Overall, the steps taken by the IRS post-tax filing can differ based on your specific situation, encompassing review, evaluation, and possible subsequent measures such as refunds, bills, audits, or investigations.

  • Should you disagree with the conclusions or evaluations made by the IRS, you retain the right to contest their determination via the IRS appeals procedure. This entails providing supplementary documentation and presenting your argument to an impartial appeals officer. 
  • The ultimate objective is to address disagreements or disparities and guarantee that your tax circumstances are correctly assessed and resolved by applicable tax statutes and guidelines.

For further details on tax filing, processing, refunds, and IRS notifications, or if you require aid with your tax returns, consider utilising our Inkle Tax software, designed to assist you in managing your taxes efficiently.

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