Taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit(EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit(ACTC) will update to the PATH Message

Once your tax return status goes from “We have received your tax return and it is being processed” to the PATH ACT message all this means is the system has recognized you have either EITC or ACTC credits that fall under the PATH ACT LAW which places a refund hold(C-Freeze) on your account until February 15th

What days should I check Wheres My Refund? if I have not received the PATH Message yet?

Taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit(EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit(ACTC) could update to the PATH Message either on Wednesday or Saturday mornings.

Anyone that files a tax return before February 15, that is owed a tax refund and if you’re claiming either the ACTC or EITC, your entire refund will be withheld until at least the February 15 every year. This delay allows the IRS time to match information from individual tax returns with information on the W-2 forms from employers, which are sent to the IRS by January 31, as a way of preventing identify theft and fraud

What if I never received the PATH message but I claimed the credits?

The IRS processes tax returns in batches so some tax returns may stay at one bar and may not get an update to the PATH Message before February 15th. If you never receive the PATH message and you are claiming EITC/ACTC credits. Those refunds will be issued after your return completes processing, provided you owe no other liability.

The delay applies to all methods of tax filing – No one can provide your refund to you before February 15. There are no exceptions.

Does the PATH Message mean my tax refund is done processing and approved?

No, The PATH message does not mean your tax return is done and your tax refund is approved. It simply means the computer system has identified you are claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit(EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit(ACTC) on your tax return.

The Where’s My Refund? tool uses the PATH Message as a placeholder for all tax returns that have claimed Earned Income Tax Credit(EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit(ACTC) until February 15. Once the PATH LAW lifts on February 16 your personalized refund status will return to the Where’s My Refund? tool and will update accordingly.

Anybody that files an early tax return, claiming either the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit, those tax returns will be processed as soon as you file them, but any refund that would be due for those returns claiming those two credits will be delayed, the IRS will not release those refunds until after February 15th.

Does PATH mean my refund is approved?

No, The IRS by law cannot approve and/or distribute any tax refunds claiming EITC/ACTC credits before February 15th each year. So the PATH message does not mean you are approved for a refund. It simply mean you are a step closer to getting a refund. Nobody has ever received a refund with the EITC/ACTC credits while the PATH message was showing as their personalized refund status.

After the PATH Message lifts and I return back to processing when will I see an update or direct deposit date?

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If you are claiming EITC or ACTC Credits and will be affected by the PATH LAW. All returns claiming the two mentioned credits above will be held under a C-Freeze. When your return is held under a C-Freeze this forces the tax return to update only on a weekly cycle. Everyone with the PATH message whether they follow Daily or Weekly cycles and have a cycle code ending in 01, 02, 03, 04, or 05 will see WMR updates only on Saturdays. When a Refund Freeze is placed on the account the computer forces the account to post updates on Where’s My Refund(WMR) only on Saturday mornings.

This is an example of an Account Transcript waiting for an 846 code to post after February 15 with PATH ACT message

This account transcript verifies that you have been accepted and are processing and you will not have a confirmation of your status until after February 15th. If more information is needed the IRS will send you a letter or you can view your transcript online to see further codes after February 15th.

If you transcripts look like this you should not have anything to worry about!

Remember: Until your Explanation of Transaction list shows an 846 Refund Issued code you are not approved or guaranteed your refund on any certain date.

Remember some taxpayers with the PATH message could have additional codes showing on their account transcript which could cause you further delays in receiving your refund.

Does the PATH Message mean my tax refund is done processing?

No, the PATH ACT message does NOT mean you are done processing. It verifies that you have been accepted and are processing and you will not have a confirmation of your status until
A. AFTER February 15th as the message says or
B. When you receive a letter in the mail from the IRS or
C. When you wake to a deposit in your account.

As far as transcripts are concerned:

Being able to view/order Account transcripts and receiving them with information means your returns have started processing, only. Until your Account Transcript includes 846 Refund Issued on the bottom left, your refund has NOT been approved. Your Return Transcript is a readout of what you have filed on your tax return. Your Account Transcript includes information about the actions taken with your account and can/does change periodically throughout the year. The “cycle code” on your Account Transcript is an internal marker of the date your IMF (Individual Master File) was created, in common terms, the day you entered the system. The IRS states that it never tells your deposit date but those of us who have used the transcript method in the past can say that in fact, it does work…..this year and every year.

Today is 2/12, it’s just a couple of more days until we all start seeing changes, and if you do not see them right away DON’T PANIC! They have said WMR will be updated this year by February 19, 2022, and that deposits may not be seen until the first week of March so just hang in there. Remember that the IRS will NOT call you and they will NOT email you, they will contact you via U.S. Postal mail if necessary.

Keep in mind, it is totally possible that you will have your refund before WMR even updates. It happens more often than you think.

If you are having your filing fees deducted from your refund, TurboTax uses Santa Barbara Taxpayer Group for that purpose and your funds will go from the IRS to SBTPG and then to your bank. You can go here and log in to see if or when your money passes through there.

Ever since the PATH ACT first impacted returns starting back in 2017 tax season has become a little stressful prior to February 15th each year, especially for those with the refundable credits included on their returns. Most of that has to do with false information and speculation. What I have posted here is fact and can be verified with a few simple searches of IRS publications. If you don’t believe something you can always do a simple google search and research what you see & hear.

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