It looks like we are having a repeat of past years with tax refund payment delays impacting millions of American’s once again. While many of these delays are due to IRS processing backlogs from prior years the one that affects most people early in the tax season and who have already filed a return, is related to the PATH act.
2022 IRS PATH (w/EIC) Refund Direct Deposit Schedule
The IRS recently announced (see screenshot below) that WMR/IRS2Go will update by Feb 19th with expected refund payment dates for taxpayers who have filed electronically and claimed the EITC or ACTC.
Once processing is complete and the refund is approved, these early E-filers can expect to get their refund by March 1st. This is about two weeks later than the original Feb 15th PATH clearance date. Refunds will be processed in batches – see cycle code in your transcript to get an idea of your release date – so early filers will see their payments first.
Several filers have reported getting their direct deposit dates per the scheduled below. Paper checks generally take 5 to 7 days longer than direct deposit for IRS approved refunds.
|PATH Refund (w/EITC and ACTC) Approved By||Expected Direct Deposit date range|
|Feb 19th||Feb 22nd to Feb 24th|
|Feb 26th||March 1st to March 3rd|
|March 5th||March 8th to 10th|
|Will follow estimated IRS schedule||Every week till end of April|
Because everyone has a unique circumstance and various processing adjustments, some people are seeing updates early and have already received direct deposit payments ahead of schedule.
You are lucky if early, but don’t be shocked if takes several days after the estimated dates to get your refund. See more in this recent YT video update.
IRS Path Refund Processing Issues
The PATH act lifted this week, but many folks are still seeing the “IRS is processing your return” message and no additional updates on their transcript. This is normal. The IRS is dealing with massive backlogs so PATH is only one reason things are delayed. Your return will be updated
Further, just because the PATH act has lifted, don’t assume your return and refund was approved. There could be other processing issues (e.g. your CTC or Stimulus check credits didn’t reconcile) which may further delay your refund check or direct deposit.
You can leave a comment below this article with your situation and I can try and answer it (or see others in a similar situation). Subscribe below to get the latest updates
The March 1st refund release date also assumes a direct deposit payment method and the overall return is approved (I.e no issues preventing refund release). You can see more in this video.
What does the PATH error message on IRS2Go or WMR mean?
The following error messages are what tax filers impacted by PATH delays would generally see on their IRS2Go app or Where is My Refund (WMR) App.
What is the PATH act?
The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) was enacted by Congress a few years ago and specifies that the IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) — until at least three weeks after the IRS starts processing returns (after Feb 15th).
The additional time is to allow the IRS to perform fraud checks and limit refunds from being issued to identity thieves or stop fraudulent claims with fabricated wages, dependents and withholdings.
Unfortunately due to the backlog of returns and expansion of these credits during the pandemic, the delay in paying PATH impacted refunds has been longer than three weeks.
Past PATH Freeze End and Refund Payment Dates
While the PATH act says returns claiming the EITC or CTC should be held for up to 3 weeks after the start of the tax season (when IRS accepts returns), IRS backlogs and other complications have meant that the actual release of approved refund has been longer than that.
The table below shows the expected vs actual dates the PATH act freeze was lifted. These are the dates WMR and IRS2Go update with your refund status or payment date (also referred to as PATH Act returns)
|Start of Tax Season||Expected PATH End Date||Actual PATH End Date||Refund Payment (1st Batch)|
|January 24, 2022||February 15, 2022||February 19, 2022 (est)||March 1, 2022 (est)|
|February 12, 2021||March 1, 2021||March 4, 2021||March 15, 2021|
|January 27, 2020||February 16, 2020||February 16, 2020||February 27, 2020|
Does the PATH ACT Mean my Refund is Approved?
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.
The WMR or IRS2Go app uses the PATH Message as a placeholder for all tax returns that have claimed these credits until February 15. You can see more around the 152 notice here.
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 these tax credits will be processed as soon as you file them. However any refund that would be due for those returns claiming one or both of these credits will be delayed. The IRS will not release those refunds until after February 15th.
So if your return was processed successfully (return approved status) your payment will be send shortly on or after Feb 16th. Otherwise the IRS will process the return in normal order.
It also does not mean your refund is approved and your refund could be held for other reasons based on IRS reviews.
Does the PATH act affect my state tax refund?
Technically no, since this is a federal act directed at the IRS. However given how intertwined your state and federal tax return is when it comes to income, exemptions, deductions and dependents it is rare to see them filed separately.
It is however common that if both your state and federal are filed accurately, your state refund could be approved and paid well before your federal refund from the IRS.
If there are discrepancies in the future with your federal return, your state tax agency will send you a notice seeking further explanation and likely recoup any underpayments in subsequent years. If they owe you more, you’ll get a check back for the additional refund.
State agencies may have different rules and guidance so I recommend checking their websites for official guidance.
Are there PATH Delays for Childless Workers claiming EIC?
Under the ARPA bill the Earned Income tax credit was tripled for childless workers. This was to offset the fact they would not benefit from the expanded child tax credit. This means a lot of workers with no children are now claiming the EIC.
However, a few forums and Facebook pages have said the PATH act delay does not apply to them, which is not congruent with the IRS page guidance which indicates all returns with these credits get held up (for 3 weeks)
So after some research the consensus is that those who are seeing a refund payment before the PATH act was lifted were in fact just getting an advance refund loan from their tax software provider (e.g. TurboTax or H&R Block). This advance refund payment is not the IRS refund.
It is just a service (free or sometimes charged) by these tax software providers who are confident you will get you refund. They will reconcile the refund you actually get from the IRS and adjust payment accordingly. Should your tax refund be lower than expected and lower than the refund loan you will be obligated to pay back the difference.
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