Got Your State Refund Before Your Federal? There’s Nothing To Worry About

Tax season always a plethora of questions. Some people are wondering why they got their state refund before their federal refund.

Anuradha Garg - Author

Feb. 15 2022, Published 10:20 a.m. ET

IRS graphic of people using smartphones
Source: IRS Facebook

Amid tax season, there are always lots of misconceptions and doubts regarding tax refunds circulating. Some people are wondering why they got their state refund before their federal refund.

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It's completely normal for state refunds to come before federal refunds, as two separate entities process the refunds. Whereas federal returns are processed by the IRS, state returns are processed by each state’s revenue department.

The state refund processing timelines

Every state has its own processing protocols and security measures. States sometimes process returns faster than the IRS. Generally rule, you can expect your state tax refund within 30 days of the electronic filing date or postmark date. You can check on the status of your refund by going to your state’s department of revenue site and using its refund tracking tool.

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estimated tax
Source: Unsplash

According to Saving to Invest, in Arizona, the average refund processing time for an e-filed return is 10 days, while in Georgia, it's 30–45 business days. Ohio is more prompt, with an average refund time of less than a week. For most other states, the time varies between 6 to 12 weeks.

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The typical time schedule for federal refunds

Your federal tax refund starts with you filing the return and the IRS accepting it. From then on, you can start tracking your refund using the Where’s My Refund tool or mobile app at IRS2Go. Typically, if there's no problem with your return, you file electronically, and you opt for a direct deposit, you should get a tax refund within 21 days of filing your return, according to the IRS.

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However, the wait time may still vary depending on a number of other factors, such as claimed tax credits. By law, the IRS can't issue refunds to those claiming either the EITC (earned income tax credit) or ACTC (additional child tax credit) before the middle of February. This additional time is to help the IRS avoid issuing fraudulently claimed refunds.

The agency usually issues refunds for paper returns mailed in for manual processing in approximately six to eight weeks, but there have been delays in 2022 due to backlogs and staff shortages. Amended returns, on the other hand, could take up to 16 weeks to process.


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