Common IRS Where’s My Refund Questions and Errors (2023)

Common IRS Where’s My Refund Questions and Errors (1)

The IRS had made huge progress in trying to be transparent about the refund process. But, with every step forward, there are two steps back. The IRS used to publish an IRS refund calendar, but they discontinued that for the new "21 days for 90% of filers".

They have also introduced tools like Where's My Refund (now simply called Check My Refund Status) and IRS2Go, both designed to let filers see where their refunds are. But, like anything that deals with the impatient public, if things don't work right, it can be a struggle.

I get it, you want to know where your tax refund is, and dealing with the IRS can be both scary and challenging.

After hearing all types of questions over the years, here is our list of common IRS Where's My Refund questions, comments, concerns, errors, and more.

If you're seeing something not on this list, leave a comment and share your story so that we can keep track of issues as they arise, and hopefully help or reassure others in the future. Or, check out our Tax Center for more info.

Common IRS Where's My Refund Questions

What Does Tax Topic 151 Mean?

What Does Tax Topic 152 Mean?

Refund Status Results Delayed

My Refund Was Accepted, When Will It Be Approved?

Why Does It Give Me A Direct Deposit Date, And Then Say Call If Not Received By Another Date?

I Called And Verified My ID - Did I Have An Identity Theft Issue?

Are You Sure I Had To Verify My ID?

(Video) Tax Return Errors-Tips to Avoid Them

But The IRS Told Me To Wait 6 or 9 Weeks? Is That True?

What Does Return Received vs. Refund Approved Mean?

What Day Of The Week Does The IRS Deposit Direct Deposits

Is The Where's My Refund System Down?

I'm Getting An Error Code 9001

I'm Getting An Error Code, What Does It Mean?

What Does Tax Topic 151 Mean?

Are you getting the message "Tax Topic 151: Appeal Your Rights" when you log into Where's My Refund?

Tax Topic 151 means that you're getting a tax offset, which is where the Department of Treasury will be taking your refund to pay for something you owe.

The most common reasons for getting a tax offset are unpaid taxes, unpaid child support payments, and offsets for Federal student loans in default.

If you received Tax Topic 151 error code, the IRS can't really help you. They will send you a letter that explains why you won't be getting your return, or how much was taken. However, the best place to call is the Bureau of the Fiscal Service. Their customer service can explain the issue better. You can learn more here:

If your student loan is in default, you need to rehabilitate your student loan to stop having your tax return taken. To learn about student loan rehabilitation, go here.

What Does Tax Topic 152 Mean?

Tax Topic 152 means you're getting a tax refund. That's it!

The IRS has given guidelines this year that 90% of tax filers should receive their refund within 21 days of filing. The IRS works weekends during tax season, so it's 21 days, not "business days".

However, if you mail your tax return, your 21 days of processing starts when the IRS gets your actual paper documents into the system. As such, paper returns take up to 12 weeks or more to process.

(Video) IRS Where's My Refund | Status Bar Disappears | TAX Topic 152

If you want a good estimate, check out our tax refund calendar for 2023.

Refund Status Results Delayed

We're seeing a new message that is saying the following:

We apologize, but your return processing has been delayed beyond the normal timeframe. You can continue to check back here for the most up to date information regarding your refund. We understand your tax refund is very important and we are working to process your return as quickly as possible.

Here's a screenshot of what this looks like:

Common IRS Where’s My Refund Questions and Errors (2)

Our sources are telling us that this message is a system error. Specifically, it hasn't even been 21 days yet for most filers, so nobody's tax return is actually delayed yet. It appears that someone may have been working to program different error messages, and this flagged for users over the first weekend of February.

This appears very similar to the IRS Code 9001 error that plagued people a few years ago.

If you're seeing this message and it hasn't been 21 days yet, you don't need to worry. Otherwise, check our tax refund calendar here for an estimate of when you can expect your tax refund.

My Refund Was Accepted, When Will It Be Approved?

It's important to note that accepted and approved are two different things.

The IRS says your refund is accepted when your file is transmitted (or entered manually) into the system and the basic "check" matches. What are the basic checks? It means your name, Social Security number, dependents, and other information matches what was expected in the system. It also means that nobody else has filed a tax return with that information yet (which is a good thing - because that could mean identity theft).

Approved means that your tax return was approved based on what you submitted. It usually takes about 14 to 21 days for your return to be approved after it's accepted. It's at this point when you can start being excited to get your refund.

Why Does It Give Me A Direct Deposit Date, And Then Say Call If Not Received By Another Date?

When you get a direct deposit date, the system will tell you "Expect your refund on this date, but call if not received by XXX date". Why?

Basically, some banks take several days to process ETF transfers into accounts. The IRS will be sending the money on the date listed. However, your bank may not post it to your account for several days.

Note: one of the biggest problems we see here with direct deposits is that the name listed on the bank account doesn't match the tax return. This can be due to a spouse's or partner's name on the account, but it can also be due to identity theft - which is what the IRS is concerned about.

The bottom line is to make sure the name on your bank account matches your tax return information!

I Called And Verified My ID - Did I Have An Identity Theft Issue?

The IRS has been cracking down on identity theft for the last several years. This is a great thing, because a lot of people were becoming victims of tax refund identity theft.

However, a lot of people think they are "verifying their identity" when they call the IRS. And while this is true, it's not identity theft related.

Whenever you call the IRS, they will ask you to verify your ID. This is just for your security, and is designed to prevent identity theft. It doesn't mean there is an identity theft issue with your return. Many callers have reported IRS representatives saying this is "to protect your identity", and that's correct - but it's not because there is a problem with your return.

If you do have an identity theft issue with your return, you're going to get a form 5071C letter in the mail from the IRS. You'll also be asked to verify your identity in person at an IRS office, or through a new website setup for identity verification, Identity Verification Service.

So, unless you had to do that, identity theft did NOT impact your return.


Are You Sure I Had To Verify My ID?

I keep getting tons and tons of questions about ID verification, so I tracked down the IRS Operational Guidelines, and here is what the IRS is going to do whenever you call and inquire about your tax refund. This is straight from the IRS operational manual:

For purposes of identification and to prevent unauthorized disclosures of tax information, you must know with whom you are speaking, complete name and title and the purpose of the call/contact. It may be necessary to ask the caller or visitor if he or she is an individual taxpayer (primary or secondary), a business taxpayer (sole proprietor, partner, or corporate officer), or an authorized third party.

Inadequate authentication of the identity of a caller could result in an "unauthorized disclosure" of return or return information. If an IRS employee makes a knowing or negligent unauthorized disclosure, the United States may be liable for damages. See IRC section 7213, IRC section 7213A , and IRC section 7431. If an IRS employee makes a voluntary, intentional disclosure, the employee may be subject to criminal penalties including a fine, imprisonment, and loss of employment.

Required authentication probes:

  • Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN),Social Security Number (SSN), Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) – If the taxpayer is inquiring about a jointly filed return, only one TIN is necessary, preferably the primary number. The secondary TIN may be required if the primary is unavailable, or for use as an additional authentication check. See IRM ,Disclosure Guidelines for ITIN Data , for specific ITIN research. Note:In the event the name and TIN provided by the caller at the beginning of the call do not match our records, ask the caller to verify their information. Terminate the call if, after probing, the information provided still does not match our records. Ask the caller to check their records and call back.
  • Name – as it appears on the tax return (for the tax year(s) in question), including spouses name for joint return.
  • Current address - If taxpayer fails to provide the correct address of record, but correctly responds to all of the other items, (IMF - name, TIN and date of birth) you may request additional taxpayer authentication pursuant to IRM, Additional Taxpayer Authentication. Note:If you are unable to verify the address on the Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS), request the address as it appears on the last tax return or as modified by IRS records.
  • Date of birth (DOB) of primary or secondary taxpayer - If the taxpayer fails the DOB probe, but correctly responds to all other items above (name, TIN, address), you may request additional taxpayer authentication pursuant to IRM, Additional Taxpayer Authentication. Note:If there is a discrepancy with the DOB on IRS records (CC INOLE) but you are confident (taxpayer has passed authentication requirements) that you are speaking with the taxpayer, advise the taxpayer to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) at 1-800-772-1213 to correct the error.

So what does that all mean? It means that you have to verify your identity whenever you contact the IRS! So stop worrying about it or thinking that it had anything to do with your return.

But The IRS Told Me To Wait 6 or 9 Weeks? Is That True?

No. If you had no issue with your account, you don't have to wait 6 weeks or 9 weeks. Even if you get an Error Code 9001, you don't have to wait.

Don't believe me? Well first, here's a screenshot from one of our readers who got the 9001 error on 2/5, and now has a direct deposit date:

Common IRS Where’s My Refund Questions and Errors (3)

Second, still don't believe me? Why would these IRS agents tell me that I need to wait? Because that's what the operations manual tells them to do.

We went digging because a lot of people were talking about it, and here's why they tell you this (this is straight from the IRS Operations Manual):

Call/Inquiry For Return Found, But Not Processes

If the return was received, but not processed, one of the following will happen:

  1. If a Letter 4464C or Letter 4115C was prepared and it has been 14 days or less from this date, inform the taxpayer he/she will receive a letter within the next two weeks.
  2. Advise the taxpayer their return was selected for review without disclosing the IVO involvement.
  3. Perform additional authentication per IRM, Additional Taxpayer Authentication, and if the caller passes, prepare e-Form 4442 to IVO, using category "RICS IVO Complex issue not ID Theft." Include authentication results in AMS. Advise the taxpayer they should receive further information or their refund within 6 weeks from the initiation of the e-4442.

That sounds scary, but what does each of them mean?

The letter means additional information is required. They will tell you what to expect.If you're selected for review, they will tell you and will not hide this fact. It doesn't necessarily mean anything, and about 1% of returns are selected every year randomly.

This means they honestly don't know what you're calling them because your return is in process. eForm 4442 just documents the fact you called and it's not ID theft. If they suspect you are a victim of identity theft, they fill out a different form. The advice of 6 weeks is simply because they have no issues with your return, so wait and see if they do! If you call back, the same rules apply - they will simply document it and tell you to wait 6 weeks.

So where did the 9 weeks come from? We couldn't find it anywhere, but we think that it has to do with reps really trying to advice you NOT to call, because you don't have to!

What Does Return Received vs. Refund Approved Mean?

When you file your refund, the first bar you're waiting for is for your "Return to be Received". This only means that the IRS was able to process your return. It has nothing to do with anything other than a system check that your return was valid.

(Video) 2022 Tax Refund - IRS Tax Topic 151

The next bar is "Refund Approved". This means that your tax refund was approved and you should be getting a direct deposit date (or check mailed).

The final bar is "Refund Sent", which means that the IRS has sent your refund by check or direct deposit.

I Lost All My Bars, Or I Have No Bars

Some Where's My Refund users have reported losing all their bars, or no bars are showing up.

This means NOTHING.

Typically, this is more of a website/programming issue, than a system or status issue. It might have to do with your web browser or phone. It might have to do with the IRS systems being overloaded with traffic.

Regardless, it means nothing for you as the person waiting for a tax refund.

What Day Of The Week Does The IRS Deposit Direct Deposits

Refunds used to be processed by the IRS just two times per week. However, now the IRS deposits refunds every business day.

It's important to note that the IRS processes your information, and then sends that data to the Treasury Department for actual payment processing.

If you're hoping to get your tax refund a few days early, check out these banks that allow you to get your tax refund early.

Is The Where's My Refund System Down?

The IRS works hard to ensure that all systems are up and running all the time. However, there is both planned downtime and unexpected downtime.

The IRS plans downtime for the WMR system every Monday, early, from 12 a.m. (Midnight) to 3 a.m. Eastern Time.

I'm Getting An Error Code 9001

IRS Error Code 9001 is becoming a very common error code that a lot of people are reporting on Where's My Refund.

But what does it mean? According to the IRS, all it means is that the Where's My Refund system (or IRS2Go) was accessed by a secondary SSN on the return.

Some of the common themes I see with this are:

  • Wife accessed the return, but husband was primary filer
  • Kids accessed the return, but parents were primary filers
  • Family isn't communicating and telling the other person they accessed it
  • Typos - Typo on the return or typo entered information on WMR

The bottom line is that IRS Code 9001 means NOTHING for your return status. It has nothing to do with identity theft directly (but it could), and it is no reason to call the IRS. For more information, see our detailed write-up on IRS Code 9001.

I'm Getting An Error Code, What Does It Mean?

There are about 100 different error codes that could happen using Where's My Refund. The IRS is very detailed, and has a system or process for everything. If you're getting an error code when logging into WMR, here what to do.

Check out our list of all the IRS Where's My Refund Error Codes.

Once you know your code, you might need to call the IRS, or you might need to wait for them to send you a letter explaining what happened.

Some of the common error codes simply have to do with typos. Make sure you double-check your return!

What questions do you have? What are you seeing out there?

(Video) How do I fix a mistake on my Tax Return?


Why is wheres my refund saying my information is incorrect? ›

Until the IRS starts processing it on their own, you may not find a record of it or the website may say that you have put in incorrect information when tracking your federal refund. As your return moves through the system, the status of it will be updated accordingly.

Where's my refund says my information is wrong 2022? ›

If your status shows that your information entered was incorrect when you are certain you have entered the right data, this may be due to these delays, meaning they do not have record of the data or refund amount you entered in their system yet and thus cannot display the information.

What errors will the IRS correct? ›

The IRS may correct math or clerical errors on a return and may accept it even if the taxpayer forgot to attach certain tax forms or schedules.

How do you speak to a live person at the IRS? ›

Contact an IRS customer service representative to correct any agency errors by calling 800-829-1040 (see telephone assistance for hours of operation).

Why does the IRS say my information doesn't match 2022? ›

When you go to file your taxes, and the IRS website says “your information doesn't match,” it usually means that it is a mismatch of the last four digits of your Social Security number. This most often happens when people update their information or if they have applied for a new credit card.

Why dont my 2022 get my refund? ›

If you filed weeks ago and still haven't received your return, there could be several reasons why you're experiencing a delay. The most common causes for tax refund delays include simple math errors, inaccurate or missing information and missing signatures or attachments.

Why dont I get my tax refund yet 2022? ›

(updated July 7, 2022) We issue most refunds in less than 21 calendar days. However, if you filed on paper and are expecting a refund, it could take six months or more to process your return.

Is it common for the IRS to make mistakes? ›

IRS mistakes are actually quite rare. In fact, a 2017 study by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that the IRS makes errors in less than 1% of the returns it processes. That means that for every 10,000 tax returns filed, the IRS makes an error on just 100 of them.

Does the IRS always catch mistakes? ›

Does the IRS Catch All Mistakes? No, the IRS probably won't catch all mistakes. But it does run tax returns through a number of processes to catch math errors and odd income and expense reporting.

What happens if IRS finds an error? ›

If there's a mistake and the IRS sent you a notice or returned the form. If information is missing, the IRS will either return the form or send you a notice asking for specific information it needs to finish processing your tax return.

What is the best time to call the IRS? ›

A good rule of thumb: Call as early in the morning as possible. Phones are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (your local time) Monday to Friday, except: Residents of Hawaii and Alaska should follow Pacific time. Puerto Rico hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time.

How do I get a live person at the IRS 2022? ›

Here's how to get through to a representative:
  1. Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 during their support hours. ...
  2. Select your language, pressing 1 for English or 2 for Spanish.
  3. Press 2 for questions about your personal income taxes.
  4. Press 1 for questions about a form already filed or a payment.
  5. Press 3 for all other questions.
29 Jul 2022

How do I get through the IRS customer service 2022? ›

Use our International Services page. If you can't find the answers to your tax questions on, we can offer you help in more than 350 languages with the support of professional interpreters. For assistance in Spanish, call 800-829-1040. For all other languages, call 833-553-9895.

Why does it say your tax return is still being processed a refund date will be provided when available? ›

Your Tax Return is Still Being Processed - Refund Date will be provided when available? ⋆ If your tax return status is "Still Being Processed" your tax return could be essentially on hold until the IRS corrects any issues and/or gets the additional information from you to continue processing your return ...

How long does the IRS have to issue a refund 2022? ›

If you filed on paper, it may take 6 months or more to process your tax return. For service delay details, see Status of Operations. The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, it's possible your tax return may require additional review and take longer.

What time of day does the IRS update refund status 2022? ›

Note that the IRS only updates tax return statuses once a day during the week, usually between midnight and 6 a.m. They do not update the status more than once a day, so checking throughout the day will not give you a different result. Should I call the IRS to check my federal tax refund status?

Why has my refund been accepted but not approved? ›

An incomplete return, an inaccurate return, an amended return, tax fraud, claiming tax credits, owing certain debts for which the government can take part or all of your refund, and sending your refund to the wrong bank due to an incorrect routing number are all reasons that a tax refund can be delayed.

Why is it taking so long for my tax refund 2022? ›

What's Taking So Long to Receive Refunds? If you don't receive your refund in 21 days, your tax return might need further review. This may happen if your return was incomplete or incorrect. The IRS may send you instructions through the mail if it needs additional information in order to process your return.

Why is my refund still processing? ›

Reasons Your Tax Refund Can Be Delayed

Errors such as an incomplete filing status. Missing information. A need for additional review. Possible identity theft or tax fraud.

How long can the IRS hold your refund for review? ›

If the IRS is reviewing your return, it may have questions about your wages and withholding, or credits or expenses shown on your tax return. The review process could take anywhere from 45 to 180 days, depending on the number and types of issues the IRS is reviewing.

What day will refunds be issued 2022? ›

2022 Estimated Income Tax Refund Date Chart – When Will You Get Your Tax Refund?
IRS Accepts E-Filed Return By:Direct Deposit Sent (Or Paper Check Mailed 1 week later):
IRS will start accepting income tax returns on Jan. 24, 2022.
Jan. 24, 2022*Jan. 31 (Feb. 11)**
Jan. 31, 2022*Feb. 11 (Feb. 18)**
Feb. 7Feb. 18 (Feb. 25)**
7 more rows
10 Jan 2022

Who do I call if I haven't received my tax refund? ›

Use Where's My Refund, call us at 800-829-1954 (toll-free) and use the automated system, or speak with a representative by calling 800-829-1040 (see telephone assistance for hours of operation). If you filed a married filing jointly return, you can't initiate a trace using the automated systems.

Who is responsible for IRS mistakes? ›

Tax Preparer Liability

Thus, for example, if a tax preparer committed an error–intentionally or unintentionally–on Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1041s, or 1065 (partnership) and 1041 (grantor trusts), the preparer was liable. Today, since 2007, a tax preparer will be liable for errors committed on any return.

Will the IRS fix my return if I made a mistake? ›

If you made a mistake on your tax return, you need to correct it with the IRS. To correct the error, you would need to file an amended return with the IRS. If you fail to correct the mistake, you may be charged penalties and interest. You can file the amended return yourself or have a professional prepare it for you.

How long does it take IRS to correct their mistake? ›

Filing a 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

If you do have to file an amended return, know that it can take up to three weeks to show up in IRS systems and may take up to 16 weeks to be processed.

What is the most common mistake when filing taxes? ›

Common tax return mistakes that can cost taxpayers
  • Filing too early. ...
  • Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers (SSN). ...
  • Misspelled names. ...
  • Entering information inaccurately. ...
  • Incorrect filing status. ...
  • Math mistakes. ...
  • Figuring credits or deductions. ...
  • Incorrect bank account numbers.
20 Jan 2022

Can I live chat with an IRS agent? ›

IRS unveils voice and chat bots to assist taxpayers with simple collection questions and tasks; provides faster service, reduced wait times | Internal Revenue Service.

What's the quickest way to get through to the IRS? ›

You can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 for general questions or refund status information. However, if you're not able to resolve a tax issue, it may be helpful to contact the Taxpayer's Advocate Service (TAS) at 1-877-777-4778.

How do I contact the IRS to ask a question? ›

You can call 1-800-829-1040 to get answers to your federal tax questions 24 hours a day. Tax forms and instructions for current and prior years are available by calling 1-800-829-3676.

Is the IRS taking phone calls 2022? ›

During the 2022 filing season, the IRS received about 73 million telephone calls from taxpayers seeking help or guidance.
Filing Season2022
Calls Answered by IRS Employees10 percent
Filing Season2021
Calls Received167 million
Calls Answered by IRS Employees15.7 million
4 more rows
24 Jun 2022

Will IRS correct my return? ›

The IRS may correct mathematical, clerical errors on a return and may accept returns without certain required forms or schedules. In these instances, there's no need to amend your return. However, do file an amended return if there's a change in your filing status, income, deductions, credits or tax liability.

What is considered a substantial error by the IRS? ›

Substantial Understatement of Income Tax Penalty

For individuals, a substantial understatement of tax applies if you understate your tax liability by 10% of the tax required to be shown on your tax return or $5,000, whichever is greater.

How long does the IRS take to fix errors? ›

If you provide the information the IRS requested, the IRS should correct your account and resolve the refund issue (generally within 60 days). If you file a missing or late return, the IRS will process your returns and issue your refunds (generally within 90 days).

Does the IRS care about small errors? ›

It seems obvious, but we can't leave it off the list because it's one of the top reasons for audits. Perfectly OK: Simple tax mistakes like small mathematical mistakes. The IRS will fix these. Not OK: Claiming the wrong deductions and credits, filing under the wrong status and stating the wrong income.

What is the most common type of tax filing error? ›

One of the most common tax filing mistakes is using the incorrect ITR form. Using the incorrect form results in a defective filing which will get rejected by the Income Tax Department.

What is the most common EITC error identified by the IRS? ›

Claiming a child who is not a qualifying child – This error occurs when taxpayers claim a child who does not meet all four tests for a qualifying child. This is the most common EITC error.

What happens if you are audited and an error is found on your taxes? ›

It will impose tax penalties if errors are found in your tax returns. There's also the possibility of jail time in serious cases of tax evasion and tax fraud. The IRS may normally flag one return for audit but it does have the authority to audit returns from the past several years.


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