The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act was created in order to protect taxpayers and their families against fraud and permanently extend many expiring tax laws. The law, which was enacted December 18, 2015, first impacted tax returns filed in 2017 and will continue to impact returns until the law is overturned or changed.

The PATH Act mandates that the IRS can not issue any refund on tax returns claiming credits such as EIC (Earned Income Tax Credit) and/or ACTC (Additional Child Tax Credit) until After February 15th each year.

All current year tax returns that claim EIC and/or ACTC filed before February 15, 2021, will contain a C- Freeze on the account, to hold the refund.

Prior to February 15th, the refund cannot be released for any reason:

  • Not even by inputting any type of adjustment to the account
  • Not even due to hardship (hardships will not be considered as long as the C- freeze is on the account). This includes the part of the refund that is not associated with the EITC or ACTC.

What if I never got the PATH Message?

Those refunds will be issued after your return completes processing, provided you owe no other liability.

What if I file after February 15th?


If you file taxes after February 15, the new tax law does not affect the timing of your tax refund. Those refunds will be issued after your return completes processing, provided you owe no other liability.

Will I receive a Direct Deposit Date on February 16 when the PATH Message lifts from WMR?

Everybody’s Where’s My Refund? statuses will change to a new status because the PATH hold releases at the end of the day (11:59:59pm) on February 15th. Most people will see the Still Processing screen until they receive further information or two bars with a Direct Deposit Date.

Why did my refund status change back to a processing message?

Everybody’s Where’s My Refund? statuses changed back to bars or a Processing message because the PATH hold came to an end at 11:59:59 on February 15th.

During the 2020 tax season, the first batch of Direct Deposit Dates started pouring in at 3:30 am Saturday, February 22, 2020, with an update for some of the early filers with daily and weekly accounts with 2/26 Direct Deposit Dates. Effective starting back in 2017 all major tax refund updates for both daily and weekly accounts claiming EITC or ACTC credits see most updates on Saturday mornings. Starting the following week Saturday, February 29, 2020, the IRS returned to normal processing of daily and weekly accounts held by PATH both receiving updates on Saturday Mornings.

In 2020 the IRS said that the majority of the early filers would see an update by Feb. 22, 2020. It took three batches of updates Saturday, Feb. 22, Saturday, Feb. 29, and Saturday, Mar. 7 to push out a large number of early filers refunds that were approved and held by the PATH ACT Hold.

The PATH message this year reads that the majority of early filers held under the PATH hold should see an update By Feb. 22, 2021. So if the IRS follows the same schedule they did in 2020. There is a good chance the morning of Saturday, Feb. 22 is going to be big day for updates.

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