By all reports tax return processing and refund payments for the 2023 tax season went much smoother than prior years and generally in line with the estimated IRS refund schedule shown below. This is not surprising given increased IRS funding this year and no new stimulus or expanded tax credit programs to administer.
When Can I Expect My Tax Refund in 2023?
The IRS says that most refunds will be paid within 21 days, which includes accepting, processing and disbursing the payment via direct deposit or check. This is regular days, not business days.
This was the basis for the estimated 2023 IRS refund schedule/calendar shown below, which has been updated to reflect the official start date of IRS tax return processing this year.
The refund processing schedule is organized by IRS’ WMR/IRS2Go processing status‘. The listed dates are just week ending estimates and your refund could be paid anytime during the week based on your IRS cycle code (see more on that in sections below).
Further, as many tax filers have found out over the last few years, actual refund payment dates could be much longer if your return is pulled for mandated PATH (lifted on Feb 16th), additional identity fraud/security checks, special handling or manual agency reviews.
2023 IRS Refund Standard Processing Schedule
|Tax Return Accepted by IRS By:|
(Status = Return Received)
|IRS Processing Completed By:|
(Status = Refund Approved)
|Refund Payment (DD) By:
(Status = Refund Sent)
|March 17, 2023||March 24, 2023||March 28, 2023|
|March 24, 2023||March 31, 2023||April 4, 2023|
|March 31, 2023||April 7, 2023||April 11, 2023|
|April 7, 2023||April 14, 2023||April 18, 2023|
|April 14, 2023||April 21, 2023||April 25, 2023|
|April 21, 2023||April 28, 2023||May 2, 2023|
|April 28, 2023||May 5, 2023||May 9, 2023|
|May 5, 2023||May 12, 2023||May 16, 2023|
|May 12, 2023||May 19, 2023||May 23, 2023|
|May 19, 2023||May 26, 2023||May 30, 2023|
|May 26, 2023||June 2, 2023||June 6, 2023|
|June 2, 2023||June 9, 2023||June 13, 2023|
|June 9, 2023||June 16, 2023||June 20, 2023|
|June 16, 2023||June 23, 2023||June 27, 2023|
|June 23, 2023||June 30, 2023||July 4, 2023|
|June 30, 2023||July 7, 2023||July 11, 2023|
|July 7, 2023||July 14, 2023||July 18, 2023|
|July 14, 2023||July 21, 2023||July 25, 2023|
|July 21, 2023||July 28, 2023||August 1, 2023|
|July 28, 2023||August 4, 2023||August 8, 2023|
|August 4, 2023||August 11, 2023||August 15, 2023|
|August 11, 2023||August 18, 2023||August 22, 2023|
|August 18, 2023||August 25, 2023||August 29, 2023|
|August 25, 2023||September 1, 2023||September 5, 2023|
|September 1, 2023||September 8, 2023||September 12, 2023|
|September 8, 2023||September 15, 2023||September 19, 2023|
|September 15, 2023||September 22, 2023||September 26, 2023|
|September 22, 2023||September 29, 2023||October 3, 2023|
|September 29, 2023||October 6, 2023||October 10, 2023|
|October 6, 2023||October 13, 2023||October 17, 2023|
|October 13, 2023||October 20, 2023||October 24, 2023|
|October 20, 2023||October 27, 2023||October 31, 2023|
|October 27, 2023||November 3, 2023||November 7, 2023|
|November 3, 2023||November 10, 2023||November 14, 2023|
|November 10, 2023||November 17, 2023||November 21, 2023|
|November 17, 2023||November 24, 2023||November 28, 2023|
|November 24, 2023||December 1, 2023||December 5, 2023|
|December 1, 2023||December 8, 2023||December 12, 2023|
|December 8, 2023||December 15, 2023||December 19, 2023|
|December 15, 2023||December 22, 2023||December 26, 2023|
|December 22, 2023||December 29, 2023||January 2, 2024|
|December 29, 2023||January 5, 2024||January 9, 2024|
|January 5, 2024||January 12, 2024||January 16, 2024|
|January 12, 2024||January 19, 2024||January 23, 2024|
The estimated IRS refund payment dates in the chart above should not be construed as official IRS payment dates. To get the exact date of your refund payment check the IRS’ Where is My Refund (WMR) site or your IRS transcript.
How to read the IRS refund processing schedule
The estimated refund payment dates in the table above are based on past years and IRS processing guidelines. It shows the date your refund will be processed and paid based on the week your return is accepted and refund is approved by the IRS.
The federal IRS refund processing schedule is only for electronically filed returns (e-file) done thorough online tax software providers and assumes your tax return was in order. I.e accepted by the IRS via the WMR tool and status is equal to “Return Received”.
Once your tax return is successfully processed by the IRS, it will go to the “Refund Approved” status, after which it goes to refund sent when the payment is disbursed by the IRS.
Paper filed returns can take considerably longer and could take 1 to 2 weeks longer than the direct deposit payment dates.
Average IRS Refund
Why Your Refund Payment Could be Delayed
There are many reasons your tax return processing could be delayed beyond what is shown in the standard schedule above. This includes submission errors, IRS reconciliation issues or security/fraud related issues.
This is why many filers are see the “Return Processing Has Been Delayed Beyond The Normal Timeframe (Tax Topic 152)” message during tax season.
Note that as in previous years, if you claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) your refund may have been delayed beyond the standard processing times due to the PATH act provisions.
This is to allow for fraud and dependent verification on these dependent related tax credits. See sections below for more on the PATH act and refund release timeline.
For those experiencing ongoing issues or delays with their refunds check out this article on “Why is it taking so long to get my refund.”
IRS Test Batches – Early Refunds
A week or two prior to the IRS officially accepting and processing tax returns, they will often run several test batches with various major tax software providers to “test” and “verify” their systems are integrating externally and processing returns correctly.
This will result in WMR status updates for a small subset of tax payers picked in these early test batches, but refunds won’t be paid until after the official IRS processing date.
Note that early refunds paid as a result of test batch processing are not the same as those via refund advance loans.
When Should Taxpayers contact the IRS?
The IRS has said that phone and walk-in representatives can only research the status of your refund if it has been 21 days or more since you filed electronically, or more than 6 weeks since you mailed your paper return or if the IRS WMR tool directs you to contact them.
You can also see earlier updates from prior tax seasons and the thousands of comments below this article around dealing with delayed tax refund processing issues!
Help! My WMR status bar has disappeared
As many folks have commented, the WMR tracker status bar may disappear or not be shown if your return falls under IRS review after it is received (Status Bar 1: Return Received) because additional information is needed for your return.
This can happen even if you previously checked WMR and it showed the status as “Return Received.” An explanation or instructions will be provided depending on the situation (e.g. PATH message or Tax Topic 152 as discussed below)
But don’t panic when this happens. The IRS still has your return but things are essentially on hold until the IRS gets the additional information from you to continue processing your return . You will either get directions on WMR or IRS2Go or the IRS will contact you by mail. See more in this video.
Follow the provided instructions and return any additional information ASAP to get your potential refund and reduce any further delays. Talk to your accountant, tax advocate or tax professional if you are not clear on what the IRS is asking for or you don’t get an update after 21 days.
PATH Act and Tax Topic 152
Two of the most common refund related messages showing up on the WMR tool after your tax return is submitted are the PATH message and to Refer to Tax Topic 152.
The PATH message on WMR/IRS2Go relates to the the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act (PATH Act of 2015) and is to notify you that the IRS is legally required to hold and further verify tax returns that include EITC or ACTC.
While the IRS can continue to process affected returns, they cannot issue refund payments until the PATH act lifts. This generally happens from mid-February. See more in this article on PATH act processing for the current tax season.
The PATH message does not mean your tax return is done and your tax refund is approved. It simply means the IRS systems have identified you are claiming the (EITC) or the (ACTC) on your tax return, and so further processing and payments related to your refund are held up for the statutory hold period (3 weeks after the start of tax season).
Once the PATH restriction is lifted, the IRS will process these returns and pay refunds per the above schedule. You may see Tax code 570 with a Notice 971 code (IRS review adjustment) if your refund is adjusted for other reasons.
When you see the “Refer to Tax Topic 152“ message it means your refund is being processed and the IRS is directing you its generic refund page for more information. There is not much you can do but wait to see if the IRS finds any issues or requires further verification of your identity or items in your tax return.
A Tax Topic 151 message simply means that you’re getting a tax offset which may result in your refund being less than you expected. The reason for this is that the federal government has “offset” or deducted monies from your tax refund to cover debts you owe other federal agencies. See this article to get more details on why your refund was offset.
You will get an official notice letter/report explaining the actual offset and adjustments to your tax return, and details on how to appeal this action – but likely it will delay you getting your refund.
While not great news, the silver lining here is that the IRS has processed your return and your adjusted refund (where applicable) should be on its way. You will see code 846 on your transcript when the refund has been issued.
What is the IRS Cycle Code on my Transcript?
While the above IRS refund schedule can give you an estimated date for you refund once approved (WMR/IRS2Go status) by the IRS, it may take a while to get there.
So some folks use their IRS tax transcript (free from your IRS account) which shows various tax processing codes and a “cycle code.” This is an eight digit number that indicates when your tax return posted to the IRS Master File (IMF).
The cycle code is updated regularly and when combined with the tax topic code, can provide insight into your tax refund status, processing stages and potential direct deposit date. You can see a deeper discussion on IRS cycle codes in this article.
If I can see current year processing details on my IRS tax transcript does it mean I am getting my refund soon?
This question comes up a lot and I have seen a few comments on this suggesting that that if you can see current tax season processing details on your (free) transcript then your refund is on the way. But this is not a factual statement.
The IRS is very clear that just being able to see processing details on your IRS transcript does not mean you will imminently be getting a refund and is among the common myths and misconceptions repeated in social media.
For the current tax season you transcript will update several times in line with your cycle code (discussed above) and IRS processing. The official IRS line is that checking the WMR or IRS2Go tool is the best and official way to check your refund status.
However I have read a number of comments here and on other tax sites saying that when WMR/IRS2Go provides limited information on the refund, your IRS transcript can be a good source to get more details. The is especially the case if your refund processing has been stuck for a while.
IRS system issues and refund delays
Every year the IRS has issues with processing returns in a timely manner and so a number of people see delays in getting their refunds or updates in the status of their refund on the WMR tool/app.
The IRS has said most system processing issues have now been resolved and new funding will be used to upgrade systems.
But given the various legacy systems in place and sheer volume of processing to be done, including prior season backlogs of paper and amended returns, I would not be surprised to see system issues arise again this year, which mean more delays in processing and paying refunds. See more around processing delays in this video.
Amended Tax Return Refund Schedule
While the IRS promises to have regular return refunds processed within 21 days for nine out of ten tax payers, it does take quite a bit longer to receive a refund if you amended your tax return.
Generally you will have to wait up to 16 weeks more for the IRS to process amended returns since they prioritize regular returns. Also note that the standard”Where’s my refund” service from the IRS does not track amended tax return status’. You need to instead use the IRS tool, “Where’s My Amended Return.”
You can also access the tool via phone by calling 1-866-464-2050. Only call the IRS to follow up on delayed amended return refunds after 12 weeks. The number to call is 1-800-829-1040.
2022 Estimated Tax Refund Processing Schedule
|Tax Return Accepted by IRS |
(Status = Return Received)
|If IRS Processing Completed By|
(Status = Refund Approved)
|Estimated Refund Payment Date via Direct Deposit (Status = Refund Sent)||Estimated Refund Payment Date via Paper Check|
|January 24th, 2022||January 31, 2022||February 7 2022||February 19, 2022|
|February 1, 2022||February 8, 2022||February 11, 2022||February 22, 2022|
|February 7, 2022||February 14, 2022||February 18, 2022||February 28, 2022|
|February 14, 2022||February 22, 2022||February 24, 2022 (PATH Batch #1)||March 7, 2022|
|February 21, 2022||February 28, 2022||March 4, 2022 (PATH Batch #2)||March 14, 2022|
|February 28, 2022||March 7, 2022||March 11, 2022 (PATH Batch #3)||March 21, 2022|
|March 7, 2022||March 14, 2022||March 18, 2022||March 28, 2022|
|March 14, 2022||March 21, 2022||March 25, 2022||April 4, 2022|
|March 21, 2022||March 28, 2022||April 1, 2022||April 11, 2022|
|March 28, 2022||April 4, 2022||April 8, 2022||April 18, 2022|
|April 4, 2022||April 11, 2022||April 15, 2022||April 25, 2022|
|April 11, 2022||April 18, 2022||April 22, 2022||May 2, 2022|
|April 18, 2022||April 25, 2022||April 29, 2022||May 9, 2022|
|April 25, 2022||May 2, 2022||May 6, 2022||May 16, 2022|
|May 2, 2022||May 9, 2022||May 13, 2022||May 23, 2022|
|May 9, 2022||May 16, 2022||May 20, 2022||May 30, 2022|
|May 16, 2022||May 23, 2022||May 27, 2022||June 6, 2022|
|May 23, 2022||May 30, 2022||June 3, 2022||June 13, 2022|
|May 30, 2022||June 6, 2022||June 10, 2022||June 20, 2022|
|June 6, 2022||June 13, 2022||June 17, 2022||June 27, 2022|
|June 13, 2022||June 20, 2022||June 24, 2022||July 4, 2022|
|June 20, 2022||June 27, 2022||July 1, 2022||July 11, 2022|
|June 27, 2022||July 4, 2022||July 8, 2022||July 18, 2022|
|July 4, 2022||July 11, 2022||July 15, 2022||July 25, 2022|
|July 11, 2022||July 18, 2022||July 22, 2022||August 1, 2022|
|July 18, 2022||July 25, 2022||July 29, 2022||August 8, 2022|
|July 25, 2022||August 1, 2022||August 5, 2022||August 15, 2022|
|August 1, 2022||August 8, 2022||August 12, 2022||August 22, 2022|
|August 8, 2022||August 15, 2022||August 19, 2022||August 29, 2022|
|August 15, 2022||August 22, 2022||August 26, 2022||September 5, 2022|
|August 22, 2022||August 29, 2022||September 2, 2022||September 12, 2022|
|August 29, 2022||September 5, 2022||September 9, 2022||September 19, 2022|
|September 5, 2022||September 12, 2022||September 16, 2022||September 26, 2022|
|September 12, 2022||September 19, 2022||September 23, 2022||October 3, 2022|
|September 19, 2022||September 26, 2022||September 30, 2022||October 10, 2022|
|September 26, 2022||October 3, 2022||October 7, 2022||October 17, 2022|
|October 3, 2022||October 10, 2022||October 14, 2022||October 24, 2022|
|October 10, 2022||October 17, 2022||October 21, 2022||October 31, 2022|
|October 17, 2022||October 24, 2022||October 28, 2022||November 7, 2022|
|October 24, 2022||October 31, 2022||November 4, 2022||November 14, 2022|
|October 31, 2022||November 7, 2022||November 11, 2022||November 21, 2022|
|November 7, 2022||November 14, 2022||November 18, 2022||November 28, 2022|
|November 14, 2022||November 21, 2022||November 25, 2022||December 5, 2022|
|November 21, 2022||November 28, 2022||December 2, 2022||December 12, 2022|
|November 28, 2022||December 5, 2022||December 9, 2022||December 19, 2022|
|December 5, 2022||December 12, 2022||December 16, 2022||December 26, 2022|
|December 12, 2022||December 19, 2022||December 23, 2022||January 2, 2023|
|December 19, 2022||December 26, 2022||December 30, 2022||January 9, 2023|
|December 26, 2022||January 2, 2023||January 6, 2023||January 16, 2023|
|January 2, 2023||January 9, 2023||January 13, 2023||January 23, 2023|
|January 9, 2023||January 16, 2023||January 20, 2023||January 30, 2023|