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) Tax Refund Delay Update: What the IRS *JUST* Said for 2022

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.

(Video) Why is the IRS website not working, refund status error on IRS app 2022

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

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) IRS error retrieving information, IRS system maintenance


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.

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).

Does the IRS ever 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.

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.

Who is responsible for IRS mistakes? ›

The IRS doesn't care if your accountant made a mistake. It's your tax return, so it's your responsibility. Even though you hired an accountant, you are liable to the IRS for any mistake. So, if the IRS adjusts your tax liability and say you owe more money, it'll be you who has to pay, not your accountant.

How long does it take the IRS to fix an error? ›

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).

Why doesnt the IRS answer the phone? ›

Because of the COVID-19 situation, the IRS has temporarily suspended phone services until further notice. This suspension doesn't affect online services, refunds, or stimulus payments.

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

Can the IRS change your refund amount? ›

We also may have changed your refund amount because we made changes to your tax return. This may include corrections to any incorrect Recovery Rebate Credit or Child Tax Credit amounts. You'll get a notice explaining the changes.

Can you sue the IRS for mistakes? ›

You can file a suit in a United States District Court or the United States Court of Federal Claims. However, you generally have only two years to file a refund suit from the date the IRS mails you a notice that denies your claim.

Will the IRS fix my mistake? ›

Remember that the IRS will catch many errors itself

If the issue is a small one, the best thing you can do is wait until the IRS has fully processed your initial tax return. At that point, you will be able to see if the IRS simply corrected the error or has asked you to submit more information.

How long do taxes stay in the error department? ›

In that case, the IRS would look at every aspect of your return to determine whether you've reported your income properly and paid the appropriate amount of tax. The IRS can go back through three years' worth of returns or review up to six years if they find a serious error.

What are 3 responsibilities of the IRS? ›

The IRS performs three main functions—tax return processing, taxpayer service, and enforcement.

Does the IRS care about small mistakes? ›

Even if you don't realize the mistake for some time, the IRS is likely to forgive smaller mishaps with tax returns and will give you time to fix the problem once you become aware of it.

What is it called when the IRS investigates you? ›

IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) serves the American public by investigating potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes in a manner that fosters confidence in the tax system and compliance with the law.

Why are 2022 refunds taking so long? ›

Is There a Delay on 2022 Tax Refunds? Last year, many taxpayers ended up waiting longer than the usual 21 days — some as long as eight weeks — to receive their refunds as the IRS was dealing with the backlog of returns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The IRS is still working through this backlog of 2020 tax returns.

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.

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.

Can you contact the IRS with questions? ›

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 answering phones right now? ›

They work from 7 AM to 7 PM from Monday to Friday. You should call during these hours. But the best time to call is early in the morning, so get your information ready and call.

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.

What is the best day of the week to call the IRS? ›

The best day to call is Monday. We found no discernible difference in hold times between morning and afternoon. Can't call Monday? Early morning (7 a.m. sharp) is your best bet on other days.

Can anyone 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.

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.

What is the longest IRS refund can take? ›

Paper Return Delays

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 if my refund is less than expected? ›

If your smaller-than-expected refund came in the form of a paper check, the IRS says you can go ahead and cash it. If it was sent via direct deposit, you can leave the money in your account.

What happens if taxes are filed incorrectly? ›

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 much does it cost to sue the IRS? ›

Aside from attorney's fees, the filing fee to commence an action in the United States District Courts is $400.00. The fee to commence an action in the Court of Federal Claims located in Washington DC is $350.00. Then there is the cost of a process server which varies greatly depending upon the firm and the region.

How do I fight the IRS? ›

If you disagree you must first notify the IRS supervisor, within 30 days, by completing Form 12009, Request for an Informal Conference and Appeals Review. If you are unable to resolve the issue with the supervisor, you may request that your case be forwarded to the Appeals Office.

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

And when filed electronically, the IRS will automatically reject a tax return that has mistakes, giving the filer a chance to correct the error and resend the information. Things can get unclear for people filing their taxes on paper.

Will the IRS correct my refund? ›

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.

Does IRS fix tax errors? ›

Although the IRS often finds and corrects errors during processing, there are certain situations in which you may need to file an amended return to correct an error or make other changes to your return.

Will IRS fix small mistakes? ›

Even if you don't realize the mistake for some time, the IRS is likely to forgive smaller mishaps with tax returns and will give you time to fix the problem once you become aware of it.

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.

How do I contact the IRS about 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.


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