This article was last updated on April 19
I have been seeing a lot of comments from readers around IRS Tax Topic Codes they are seeing on the Where is My Refund (WMR) IRS refund tracking website, IRS2Go app or even on their IRS transcript. Many of the IRS Tax Topics are based on their tax system codes and general individual and business tax information. These guidelines are supposed to provide insight into reasons why the tax return is processing, refunds are delayed or some other tax related issue. You can search the IRS website for each Tax Topic Code but its not always clear what they mean and a lot of times they are pretty generic. So based on what I am seeing from recent and past seasons, here is some more insight into what these tax topic codes mean, including links to the official IRS source.
Tax Topic 151 vs 152 notice
When you log on to the WMR website or IRS2Go mobile app, you may have been presented with a message to refer to IRS Tax topic 151 or 152 in relation to your refund. But what does this mean? Tax Topic 151 simply means that you’re getting a tax offset (e.g. due to stimulus payments) which may result in your refund being less than you expected. You will get an official IRS 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.
Tax Topic 152 on the other hand means means you’re getting a tax refund in line with IRS processing guidelines (generally within 21 days) and this notice confirm the methods for payment (direct deposit, check). This is good news!
Topic No. 203 – Reduced Refund
This topic reference may come up due to an injured spouse claim due to past-due child support, unemployment and other income tax (federal or state) tax obligations. This is often initiated by the The Department of Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) which can legally apply these refund offsets.
Tax Code 570
Thanks to Domonique Jones for this update, who suffered from resolving this tax code 2 years ago. She had to get a tax advocate for it to be fixed. This code basically means that wages or something on your tax return didn’t match the information the IRS has in their systems from other sources (e.g your employer). This happened because her tax professional used her pay stubs instead of the W2 end of year tax summary from her employer, which did not reconcile and which is why she got the code (in WMR and on tax transcript) after filing her tax return. Here is what happened next.
You will get a 45 day review letter, if something minor the IRS will fix on their own and then issue your return. But this will likely result in a significant delay to getting your refund. So if you need your money get a tax advocate. If the IRS cannot resolve they will send you a follow-up and if they find more irregularities, they could end up doing an audit (low probability).
After your issue is resolved you will get a 571 code letter (resolved additional account action) before a refund is issued. Also note that once you get an advocate the people at the IRS will no longer speak with u directly. They will only talk to advocate about your return. Essentially like a lawyer.
WMR and IRS2GO Refund Status Error Codes
When you see an error on the WMR and IRS2Go tool you will get an error code and a short description. Sometimes these can tell you the cause (e.g 1161 – Refund delayed, bankruptcy on account ). But in many cases this provides no help and in that case you should reference the IRS Refund Error Code list to get more details.
I know it can be really frustrating to see ongoing delays in getting your tax refund. My answer is be patient, look into the above steps and contact a tax advocate or tax professional if you get nowhere with the IRS.
Note: Please consider this article as informational. You should consult a tax professional or call the IRS for your specific situation.