The end of tax season is quickly drawing near as the April 15 deadline for filing 2014 tax returns approaches. Many Americans looking to spend their hard-earned cash will be wondering when they’ll see their tax refunds appear in their mailboxes or bank accounts. While refund dates aren’t tried-and-true, here’s how to look up the status of a tax refund and the fastest way to get that check from Uncle Sam.

Most refunds are typically issued within 21 calendar days after a return is submitted, the Internal Revenue Service said. The best way for taxpayers to view the status of their tax refunds is by visiting the IRS website’s “Where’s My Refund?” feature.

To use the IRS search function, you’ll need your Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number, filing status and the exact refund amount. The system is updated every 24 hours, usually overnight. For people who filed electronically, the status of their returns can be checked within 24 hours of submission. People filing paper returns by mail will have to wait as long as four weeks before checking “Where’s My Refund?”

To find out the status of a refund by directly contacting an IRS customer service representative, call 1-800-829-1954, 1-800-829-4477, or 1-800-829-1040. Doing so, however, will not speed up the delivery of your refund, the agency noted.

Taxpayers who filed from Jan. 30 to Feb. 6 should have received their tax refunds by mid-February, based on previous refund schedules released by the IRS. A complete tax return table with estimated refund dates can be viewed here.

The fastest way to receive your 2014 tax refund is to file electronically and to have it deposited directly into a bank account. There are plenty of online services available to help taxpayers e-file.

While paper checks are always an option, opting for direct deposit will result in the quickest turnaround. Direct deposit has become the most popular choice for receiving a tax refund, U.S. News & World Report reported. People looking to receive their checks this way will need to provide their correct bank information, including routing number and account number, when filing their tax returns.