Reviewing their free IRS account tax transcript is a technique a lot of folks attempt to use to get an update on their tax return processing and refund status; particularly if they are not getting information (or see no bars) from the standard WMR tool or IRS2Go refund status tracker app.
While the official line is that tax transcripts will not help you find out how much or when you will get your refund for the current tax year, there is some compelling evidence from recent tax seasons that this is not always the case.
Especially if you have/are faced long delays (e.g. due to PATH act) and are not able to get refund information via the standard channels or through a hard to reach live agent.
What Does My Transcript Tell Me?
Once available on your IRS accounts, tax transcripts may actually be a great source of information around updates regarding your refund and potential processing delays beyond 21 days, due to other payments for example.
By using the transcript transaction codes, cycle codes and descriptions you can get a lot of information that WMR/IRS2Go or even an IRS agent does not provide you. See the following sections for more details.
An example of using your tax transcript to get IRS payment information was provided by some readers around their economic impact payments (stimulus checks) for past years who used their (free) tax transcript to get the latest status of delayed stimulus payments claimed on their tax return.
In particular they were able to get information for missing dependent stimulus payments which they had to claim when filing and get paid via their tax refund.
When Does IRS Update My Tax Transcript?
When you file your return, it will generally take 2 to 4 weeks before a transcript becomes available on your IRS account.
Your tax transcript will then update regularly during tax season based on IRS processing actions and your cycle code, so should using in conjunction with the WMR/IRS2Go refund trackers in addition to any official correspondence or updates.
As detailed in this article, mass transcript updates for those with daily accounts (cycle codes 01 to 04)) are usually on Tuesdays; while those with weekly accounts (05 cycle code) processed accounts generally see major updates on on Fridays.
Getting your refund status via your IRS Tax Transcript
While using the official IRS’ Where is My Refund (WMR) tool, Get My Payment tool (GMP) or Child tax credit portal (CTC) is the best way to get the status of your official government payments, it only provides limited information around current processing and payments.
On the other hand your IRS tax transcript, which can take a while to get the latest updates, does provide a lot more information via the various tax codes in the transaction details section.
There is nothing illegal or wrong about this, but it can provide some surety if its been a while since you got an update or just need more information. And given it’s free, it worth getting for some potential peace of mind.
As you can see in the image below, its pretty clear to see the stimulus payments on the transcript, including all the surrounding transactions. Tax Code 766 relate to refundable tax credits, while code 846 means the refund was issued.
So you can now see getting your latest free tax transcript is a good idea because it can give you some more information and clues about when you could be getting your refund.
Transcript Amounts, Codes and Processing Dates
Also see this YouTube video on how to use the transcript transaction codes and cycle dates to get an insight into your return processing and refund dates
Does N/A For Transcript Mean the IRS Has Not Received or Processed My Tax Return?
Many tax filers have reported seeing an N/A (Not Available) when trying to pull their current year’s tax transcript. This is despite them having filed a return several days or weeks earlier.
So naturally this creates stress around their return/refund and uncertainty on if the IRS has received or why they are not processing their tax filing.
Seeing an “N/A” though is mainly due to the IRS processing backlog and PATH restrictions, especially during tax season. It happens EVERY year, especially in February and March.
It essentially means that the IRS systems have not loaded your return into the IRS master file for processing, so no tax transcript updates have been generated for the current tax season. Y
You generally need to wait 2 to 4 weeks after filing your return to see a transcript for the relevant tax year filing.
If your return has errors or adjustments (e.g code 570 or TC 898 on your transcript) processing can take longer. But those who have zero errors, have this situation, sit tight. Nothing is wrong and your return is in queue for processing. The “N/A” will soon disappear and you will be able to download your tax transcript.
What Your IRS Transcript Can Tell You About Your Refund Delay
If you can view your transcript online you will find out exactly why you are under review by the tax codes that will be listed. If your return is under review then that could be one reason your refund is delayed.
Common reasons returns are pulled and refunds are delayed include the following. You will see codes for these on your transcript
1. NEW changes this year compared to your last 3 years of filing? This will most definitely flag your return.
2. Address Change?
3. Did you file prior to receiving your W-2? (ex: did you use your last paycheck stub?) there could be a math error.
4. Educational Credit (e.g AOTC)
5. ID verification
6. Add/drop dependents?
7. Tax Offset (owed back taxes for a prior year) which will not show up on the offset line.
8. Have you checked the offset line (800) 304-3107
9. Health Care Form (1095A) missing/not included
Reader question: I got to see my transcript. I’m not sure how to find the refund date. A few dates on there.
Response from another commenter: It will be the very last date on the ACCOUNT transcript….you will see 150, (806) withholding 766, 768, then the FINAL 846 Refund Issued. Could be other codes; you can google IRS Codes….if you want to know what they are. You don’t want to see freeze code 971, 570….or a letter has been sent…etc.,
If you can download and view the account transcript and the return transcript; that means the IRS has completed initial processing; but doesn’t mean the IRS has completed the process and your refund can still be held up.
You can use your transcript to check to see if their were any holds, offsets or freezes on your account which could have delayed or taken your refund.
If you can’t view your transcript online to see if there is any issues / codes that indicate something is wrong consider calling a tax advocate.