How to track a Pennsylvania tax refund

Man standing in a kitchen, reading about tracking a Pennsylvania tax refund on his phoneImage: Man standing in a kitchen, reading about tracking a Pennsylvania tax refund on his phone

In a Nutshell

If you’ve filed your tax returns and are expecting a Pennsylvania tax refund, you can track its status through the state’s website. Here’s what you need to know about the process and where to go if you have questions.
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This article was fact-checked by our editors and CPA Janet Murphy, senior product specialist with Credit Karma.

The Keystone State’s flat income tax rate makes it a little easier to figure how much tax you owe each year — or if you’re due a refund.

If it’s the latter, it can take several weeks before you receive your money. But you don’t have to just sit back and wonder where your state tax return is in the process. Pennsylvania allows taxpayers to track their current-year tax refunds through an online tool.

Here’s how to track the status of your Pennsylvania tax refund, as well as some answers to a few common questions.

How can I track my Pennsylvania tax refund?

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania allows taxpayers to check the status of their refund for the latest tax year through the state’s website. Here are some other ways you can check your refund’s status.

  • Call the automated information line at 1-888-728-2937.
  • Call the customer service line at 1-717-787-8201 (between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time).
  • Call one of the Department of Revenue’s district offices.

To track your refund, you’ll need to provide your Social Security number and the amount you expect to receive based on your tax return. This is similar to what the IRS requires for your federal income tax refund status, though the IRS also requires your filing status.

How long will it take to get my Pennsylvania tax refund?

Depending on how you file your state return, you may need to wait a few days or several weeks before it shows up in the system. If you file electronically, it typically takes one to three business days, but if you file a paper return, you may not be able to track it until eight to 10 weeks after you submit it.

Regardless of how you file your tax return, the state takes roughly four weeks to review and process it. From there, it can take an additional four to six weeks for the state to send a check or deposit your refund into your bank account.

In other words, it can take anywhere between eight and 20 weeks to receive your Pennsylvania state tax refund.

What if my refund has been delayed?

If your refund isn’t yet in the system, it could be because the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue hasn’t yet posted your return — this can be especially likely to happen during the height of tax season.

If it has posted, the status of your refund should be updated on a daily basis. If you haven’t seen any changes, it may be that the department needs to verify information, request information or perform a routine review.

Also, keep in mind that Pennsylvania tax returns are processed by the state in the order received — it doesn’t matter how you file. So if you submit your return later in the season or you file a paper return instead of an electronic one, it could be delayed.

If you’re owed a refund and want to receive it more quickly, your best bet may be to file as soon as possible at the beginning of tax season, submit your return electronically and request direct deposit into your bank account. This is the process the IRS recommends for getting any federal refund you’re owed as quickly as possible.

What if the refund amount isn’t what I expected?

If you try to check on your refund before your return is available in the Department of Revenue’s system, you’ll receive a message that the amount you entered on the website doesn’t match the department’s records. If this happens, note the typical processing times and check again on a later date.

It’s also possible that your refund will show up as $0 in the system. This can happen if the system can’t read the information on your tax return under your Social Security number. Again, you may need to wait a while before checking again. If the department finds that your return is incomplete or there’s an error, it should contact you directly.

And in some circumstances, the state may take some or all of your refund to cover certain outstanding debts. Pennsylvania law requires the Department of Revenue to put a taxpayer’s refund toward any unpaid court-ordered obligations they may have. For example, if you owe back child support, it can be taken out of any state refund you have coming.

If you disagree with the actual amount that’s being refunded — or you have any other questions about the process — contact the department’s customer service team at 1-717-787-8201. Representatives are available between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time.

Learn about filing income taxes in Pennsylvania

Bottom line

If you’ve filed an income tax return with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and are expecting a refund, it can take a while to get your money.

Using the state’s refund status tool, you can get daily updates about where your tax return is in the process. And if you have any questions about what’s going on or the amount you’re due, the Department of Revenue’s customer service team is standing by ready to help.

A senior product specialist with Credit Karma, Janet Murphy is a CPA with more than a decade in the tax industry. She’s worked as a tax analyst, tax product development manager and tax accountant. She has accounting degrees and certifications from Clemson University and the U.S. Career Institute. You can find her on LinkedIn.

About the author: Ben Luthi is a personal finance freelance writer and credit cards expert. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and finance from Brigham Young University. In addition to Credit Karma, you can find his wo… Read more.