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How Long Does It Take to Prepare a Tax Return?

It takes an average American taxpayer 11 hours to prepare their taxes according to the IRS. Record keeping, tax planning, form submissions and other related activities are considered when calculating this time.

Of course, it can take much longer depending on the complexity of your return. Individuals who are self-employed or have multiple streams of income can expect to spend more time on their returns.

The best way to make tax-preparation more efficient is to keep your records organized and accurate all year long, not just during tax season. Some easy ways to do this is to keep your receipts in labeled envelopes and file your taxes using a tax-preparation software.

This chart Estimated Average Taxpayer Burden for Individuals by Activity from IRS will breakdown the tasks involved in preparing your income taxes by hours spent. 

Estimated Average Taxpayer Burden for Individuals by Activity

In this article you can also learn more about:

How Can I Check the Status of My Tax Return?

NOTE: FreshBooks Support team members are not certified income tax or accounting professionals and cannot provide advice in these areas, outside of supporting questions about FreshBooks. If you need income tax advice please contact an accountant in your area.

How Can I Check the Status of My Tax Return?

After your return has been accepted, you are on the IRS payment timetable.

The average American tax refund is nearly $3,000 and that tax refund might be the biggest check you get all year. Many Americans will be counting down the day to get that money in their hands after hitting the e-file button.

If you e-filed your taxes online, you have the option of getting your refund deposited directly into your account. This is the fastest way to get your federal tax refund. 9 out of 10 e-filed tax returns with direct deposit will be processed within 21 days of IRS e-file acceptance.

If you filed your tax return on paper through the mail, you can expect a process time of 6 to 8 weeks from the date the IRS received your tax return documents.

Here’s the process in which the IRS processes your tax return:

  1. Check status 24 to 48 hours after e-filing using the IRS app or visiting the Where’s My Refund? Tool online. If you filed a paper tax return, you can start checking your status 4 weeks after the IRS has received your documents.
  2. Use the IRS Where’s My Refund tool for your Return Received Notice. Once you see a “Return Received” status, the IRS has begun processing your tax return. You will only see a refund date listed when the IRS has finished processing your tax return and approves your tax refund.
  3. Once you see that your status has changed from “Return Received” to “Return Approved, the IRS has finished processing your tax return and has confirmed your tax refund.
  4. After your status moves to “Refund Approved”, the IRS will provide you with a personalized refund date in the Where’s My Refund? Tool. You can most likely expect your refund within three weeks after e-filing with direct deposit.
  5. When your status in Where’s My Refund? Shows “Refund Sent” your money should have been sent to your financial institute. It can take another 1 to 5 days for your financial institution to deposit funds into your account. If you’ve requested your tax refund be mailed, it could take several weeks to receive your check.


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