Taxpayers who claimed 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, and If you have an amount on line 27 or 28 of your 1040 form showing you claimed EIC and/or ACTC, your entire refund will be withheld until at least 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 identity 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 refund status 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 means you are one step closer to getting your tax 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?


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 the 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 your 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.

We’ll start seeing changes in a few days, so DON’T PANIC! if you don’t see changes right away! This year, the IRS said the WMR tool will be updated no later than February 18, 2023, and some tax refunds may not appear in taxpayers’ accounts until February 28, 2023. Remember that the IRS will NOT call you and they will NOT email you, they will contact you via U.S. Postal mail if need more information from you.

Ever since the PATH ACT first impacted tax returns starting back in 2017 tax season has become a little more stressful prior to February 15th each year, especially for those with the refundable credits included on their returns. Most of that stress has to do with misinformation and speculation on when PATH lifts and when direct deposits could be issued. What we have posted here are facts and can be verified by doing some simple research in IRS publications.

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