With millions of Americans anxiously waiting for their tax refund, which can be the largest single payment of the year for many filers, it is not uncommon to hear frustration with the various IRS systems designed to provide the latest updates on tax processing and refund payments.
The Where is My Refund (WMR) site and IRS2Go mobile app are the two most common places filers can check their return after it has been received by the IRS.
They can also check their tax transcript which at times can update earlier and generally provide more details.
Tax refund processing goes through several stages, but status tools and transcripts only update once a day – if there is an update. It is not uncommon for status to remain unchanged for several days.
So many tax filers who constantly refresh and check these sites/apps will be left disappointed when things don’t change as often as they would like. Especially for those who are used to near real time updates in today’s financial world.
What days does WMR and IRS2Go update my refund status?
According to the IRS WMR can update any day of the week (but only once a day at most). This is because the IRS still works across many legacy systems and programs which process tax returns in batches or cycles (see how to find your processing cycle code). So trying to get a new update more than once a day is a thankless task.
However, major status updates for tax return processing and refund status for daily accounts (cycle codes 01 to 04) usually occur on Wednesdays; and major status updates on weekly (05 cycle code) accounts are generally on Saturdays.
IRS batch processing takes place 12am to 3am (EST) – other than system outage times that occur between 12am EST and 3am EST on Mondays.
Direct Deposit processing for refund payments generally occurs between 3:30am to 6:00am (EST) – most nights, expect Sundays.
When do Tax Transcripts Update?
Many tax filers turn to their IRS tax transcript if WMR or IRS2Go is not providing information on their tax refund processing or direct deposit date. Like WMR and IRS2Go, IRS tax transcripts can update any day of the week, but once a day only.
When they do update, it generally happens overnight in line with the standard IRS batch processing cycles.
However, mass transcript updates for those with daily accounts (in the IRS Master File) are usually on Tuesdays; Primary updates on weekly accounts are usually on Fridays
What to do if waiting for your return to be processed
In most instances, no further action by the tax filer is needed once a tax return has been filed and accepted by the IRS. If submitted electronically by reputable tax software providers, you should generally see your refund processing status in WMR/IRS2Go within 24 hours.
However the actual review/processing of your return and payment will take longer. Generally 2 to 5 days for the first round of automated system processing. If there are errors or concerns over your return, WMR and your transcript will reflect reasons why (via various transcript transaction codes)
According to the IRS it generally takes them up to 21 days to review and process tax returns for 90% of filers – though extended delays seem to be the norm this tax season!.
If you filed a paper return it could take several days more for WMR/IRS2Go and your transcript to update.
As a result this tax season, many are seeing the IRS message that returns are taking longer than normal to process.
If you don’t get a status update, you can call the IRS, but they will generally advise you to wait for at least 21 days before doing this.
Which Transcript Codes (570 and 971) Mean a Refund Delay
A lot of filers are commenting that they are still waiting for their refund after filing xx days, weeks, months ago. To get more details, review the codes on your transcript.
If your transcript is showing a 570 code (refund freeze) and 971 (noticed issued) and have been waiting a while and haven’t received a formal Audit letter, ID verification letter, or a 60 day delay letter; you are literally just on hold and delayed for the IRS to verity your stimulus or refundable credit (most likely advCTC) payments.
Why the delay? When you efile your return it randomly goes to one of the several IRS processing hubs. This is irrespective of the state you live in. Unfortunately some of the hubs are taking much longer than normal to verify these payments than other hubs that are pretty quick about it.
There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING you can do to speed this process up. Not even a tax advocate will take your case to help until the IRS finishes processing and verifying your return. You just need to be patient and wait it out.