Early Filers Report “Tax Topic 152” Error When Tracking Their Tax Refunds

What does “Tax Topic 152” mean? Here's more about the IRS message some early filers have gotten when checking the status of their tax refund.

Dan Clarendon - Author

Mar. 1 2022, Published 5:13 a.m. ET

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If you need to know what "Tax Topic 152" means, perhaps you’re one of the taxpayers who filed early and saw a vague message on the IRS’s Where’s My Refund website. According to CNET, that message reads, “We apologize, but your return processing has been delayed beyond the normal timeframe. You can continue to check back here for the most up to date information regarding your refund. We understand your tax refund is very important and we are working to process your return as quickly as possible.”

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On Reddit, taxpayers in this position are sharing their stories, with some saying there’s no apparent reason for the delay. “My return is very simple and straightforward,” one person wrote. “I have no dependents and no special situations that would slow my refund. My return is about as simple as one can get and I got the same message you guys did.”

Topic No. 152 is an IRS resource that outlines possible reasons for tax return delays

On the IRS’s webpage for Topic No. 152, the agency says that it issues nine out of 10 tax refunds in less than 21 days but says some returns may require further review. And according to TurboTax, you don’t need to take additional steps if you get this message.

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Topic No. 152 lists common causes of delays. For example, refunds for amended returns can take 20 weeks or more with COVID-19 processing delays. Tax returns with injured spouse claims and those with no individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) attached may also cause a processing lag. And the IRS says to allow up to six months after the Form 1040-NR due date or the date that you filed Form 1040-NR, whichever is later, for refunds of tax withheld on Form 1042-S.

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The IRS says you can contact its representatives through the Where’s My Refund tool, but the agency clarifies that representatives can research the status of your tax return only if it’s been more than 21 days since your received your e-file acceptance notification or more than six weeks since you mailed your paper return.

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You might also see Topic No. 151 or Topic No. 303

If you get a reference code about Tax Topic 151, on the other hand, your tax return is under review at the IRS, CNET reports. “The IRS will send you a report and/or letter that will explain the proposed adjustments or proposed or taken collection action,” the agency states on its webpage for Topic No. 151. “The correspondence also tells you of your right generally to request a conference with an Appeals or Settlement Officer, as well as how to make your request for a conference.”

If you get a reference code about Tax Topic 303, there may be errors on your return, according to TurboTax. Those errors could include incorrect or ineligible identifying information, incorrect filing status, incorrect dependent information, information entered on the wrong line, or incorrect deduction or credit calculations.


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