If Your Tax Return is Accepted, What is the Next Process?

The IRS reviews your tax returns in detail after accepting them and prepares your tax refund.

You can then compare your tax refund with the amount you listed on Form 1040.

Let us discuss what are the IRS tax acceptance, review, and refund sending processes.

What Does Tax Return “Accepted” Mean?

When the IRS changes your filed tax returns status to “accepted”, it means your returns have passed the initial screening.

The IRS reviews your filed returns initially and the system verifies different types of checks before it is marked “accepted”.

Your tax returns go through different stages from preparations to refund claims. The acceptance stage is the second stage with the IRS after the initial review phase when you submit your tax returns.

Here are a few key elements that the IRS reviews and if these are found correct, your returns will be accepted for further screening.

Personal Information

Your name, individual tax identification number, and social security number should match the IRS records.

If you misspell your name or wrongly input the TIN or SSN, your returns will be rejected.

Filing Status

The IRS system will also verify your tax filing status. If your marital status changed or you chose to file taxes differently this year, you must fulfill the returns accordingly to avoid rejection.


You must fulfill the tax returns using the relevant tax forms. Individuals and small businesses use similar forms and corporations use different types of forms.

For example, you must attach the Form 8962 Premium Tax Credit (PTC) form and the information should match the Form 1095-A when you purchase the health insurance plan from the ACA marketplace insurance provider.


Make sure you attach the required forms and other documents when needed. Usually, you do not need to attach personal information identification documents though.

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The initial review will screen the deductions marked in the relevant columns of your tax forms.

However, the detailed review will decide the outcome of your deduction in the later stages when your tax refunds will be calculated.


Similarly, your estimated taxes, the health insurance premium advance, and other credits will be matched in this stage.

Does Tax Return Accepted Mean the Process is Completed?

Generally, when your tax returns status is “processing”, it means the IRS is reviewing them. However, the IRS continues screening your returns even when it shows “accepted” status.

Your tax returns show one of these three statuses:

  • Processing
  • Accepted
  • Approved

The initial screening is to verify the general information points mentioned above. Then, the IRS reviews your returns in detail.

During this stage, your tax returns will be verified for errors, tax credits, deduction claims, and other information.

Once the review is completed, the IRS will proceed with your tax refund. Usually, the tax refund takes 21 days after filing your returns.

Note: The IRS has seen a tax refund clog the tax year 2021 due to several temporary tax amendments and tax credit adjustments. You may receive your tax refund with a delay this year.

My Tax Return is Accepted, what is the Next Process?

You do not have to do anything during this stage except for checking your tax return status.

The IRS will review your tax returns and if there is any error or misplacement, will ask you for clarification. If you are filing electronically, your tax returns may get rejected immediately as well.

Once your tax returns are processed, the Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Fiscal Services (BFS) issues tax refunds.

You should estimate the tax refund or consult your tax preparer to get an idea of the tax refund amount.

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The best you can do is to plan for the tax refund amount. You can use this amount to reduce your next tax liability by using it wisely.

You can always seek an explanation from the IRS if you feel your tax refund is wrong. However, the IRS will usually declare the adjustments and you can verify them using the online resources.

How to Check Your Tax Return Status?

You can check the status of your filed tax returns by using the “Where is My Refund” online tool or the IRS2go mobile app.

You’ll need the following information to check the status of your tax returns:

  • Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number
  • Tax filing status
  • The exact amount of the refund claimed on their tax return

The IRS tool will display one of these three stages:

  • Returns Received
  • Returns Accepted
  • Refund Sent

Your tax returns may get rejected immediately when you file electronically as mentioned above.

How to Check Your Tax Refund Status?

The IRS sends the tax refunds within 21 days on average. You can use the same tools to check the status of your refund:

  • Where is My Refund, and
  • IRS2go App

You should the tax refund status:

  • 24 hours after e-filing the tax year 2021 return
  • 3 or 4 days after e-filing the tax year 2019 or 2020 return
  • 4 weeks after you mail a paper return

In some cases, your tax refunds may take longer than expected if your tax return:

  • Needs a correction to the Recovery Rebate Credit amount or the Child Tax Credit amount
  • Is erroneous or incomplete
  • Is affected by identity theft or fraud
  • Includes a claim filed for an Earned Income Tax Credit or an Additional Child Tax Credit using 2019 income.
  • Includes a Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, which could take up to 14 weeks to process
  • Needs further review in general
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You may need to call the IRS if:

  • It’s been 21 days or more since you e-filed
  • It’s been more than 6 weeks since you mailed your paper return
  • Where’s My Refund says we (IRS) can provide more information to you over the phone

Why My Tax Refund is Smaller than Expected?

Normally, the tax refund is smaller than you expect because the IRS would adjust the tax credits you claimed excessively.

Here are a few reasons why your tax refund may be smaller than you expected:

  • You already claimed a portion of the Child Care Tax Credit C(CTC).
  • The IRS adjusted your back-year taxes.
  • The IRS adjusted your child support credit, state income taxes, or penalties and payments you owed to other federal agencies.
  • Your employer deducted the wrong withholding income tax amount.
  • You deducted or claimed excessive tax deductions and credits.

The IRS will send you a communication letter or email listing the details about your tax refunds. If it is too small, the IRS will provide a reason.

The IRS may send you another check or transfer funds directly if it agrees with your opinion.

Contrarily, if you match the refund with the amount on your Form 1040 and found it excessive, do not wait until the IRS notice.

You should immediately consult your tax preparer or the IRS to clear the excessive amount. Delaying it may accrue interest on the amount you must return.

A tip to compare your refund is with the average tax refund each year. For instance, the IRS average tax refund for the tax year 2021 was $3,263.

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