By the middle of April each year, every taxpayer in the United States who earned over a certain threshold the previous year must file a tax return. Once received, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) begins processing each return and issues a refund to those due to receive one. Processing times vary depending on several factors. For instance, during the 2020 tax cycle, shortages in staffing and changes in tax laws caused a backlog, resulting in longer wait times. Typically, the IRS aims to process and pay returns in 21 days or less from when they accept your return.