Bars Disappeared on Where’s My Refund

When the IRS is taking a long time to process your tax refund, it sometimes stops updating your refund status altogether. Here’s what you should do next.

This post is provided for general information only. Please confirm the details and circumstances of your unique situation with your tax accountant or other appropriate advisor before taking action.

How long should it take to get a tax refund?

If you file your tax return online, you can usually expect to get your tax refund within 21 days. A paper return often takes longer because of mailing times and because the IRS has to enter paper returns by hand.

Once the IRS has your tax return, it does a few quick computer checks. Some tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, have a minimum waiting time so the IRS can confirm your claim against other information.

Once everything checks out, you should see your refund status change from return accepted to refund approved.

What does Tax Topic 152 mean?

Tax Topic 152 is a general IRS information page explaining how they process tax returns and tax refunds.

Other than the fact that you may not be getting your tax refund as quickly as you may have wanted, Tax Topic 152 is neither good nor bad. The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t even know if there’s a problem yet.

All the bars disappearing and getting Tax Topic 152 means that the IRS is holding your tax return for further review.

Can calling the IRS speed up your tax refund?

Calling the IRS usually won’t speed up your tax refund. They handle all tax returns in order and contact you if something’s wrong.

Until the IRS contacts you, there’s generally nothing you can do. For example, you typically can’t call them and say you need your tax refund to pay your bills to get it sooner.

In some cases, you may have missed a letter or notice from the IRS asking you for more information or saying that they’re adjusting your refund. If it’s been longer than the time listed on your Where’s My Refund status page or in a previous letter you got from the IRS, you can call the IRS for an update.

Can I do anything to get my tax refund faster?

One thing you may want to do to possibly get your tax refund faster is to check your online tax transcript in your IRS account. Your IRS account lets you see your W-2s, 1099s, and other tax forms as well as the tax withheld.

If you notice anything that’s missing or inaccurate, that could be why the IRS flagged your income tax return. You can contact your employer or whoever issued the tax form to ask them to correct it.

Keep in mind that getting a W-2 or 1099 doesn’t mean the IRS has it. It’s possible the issuer forgot to file with the IRS or left yours out by mistake.

Can I change my refund payment information?

If you’ve been waiting for your refund for a long time, you might want to change your payment information from how you entered it on your tax return. For example, you might want to do direct deposit instead of a refund check or you might have moved to a new financial institution.

There’s usually no way to change where your refund goes. If you requested a direct deposit to a bank account that you closed since filing your tax return, the IRS will try to send it to that account and then mail you a check after it bounces.

If you’ve moved, make sure you set up mail forwarding with the post office and change your address with the IRS.

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All comments are public and may be posted with or without edits. Don't include any sensitive information. This is not the IRS — I did not send you a letter or hold your refund.

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