Tax Topic 152 Refund Information: Is It Good Or Bad?

Article Summary:

Tax Topic 152 is an alert that tells you that your tax refund might be delayed as a result of several common reasons. These may include submitting your return late, filing an amended return, or claiming Earned Income Tax Credit. It’s nothing to worry about and does not require you to pursue any additional steps.

The IRS has a way of turning a simple conversation into a coded message. Tax Topic 152 is one such example, and it’s something that you may hear once you get your filings put away for the year. But, what is it and what does it mean for your taxes?

Tax Topic 152 is a specific reference you may see on the “Where’s My Refund” status on the IRS website. This generally means that your tax refund has been delayed but does not require any additional information. Keep reading to learn more about why you received a Topic 152 notice, what means it for your refund, and how to get your refund faster.

What is Tax Topic 152?

Tax Topic 152 is a blanket reference number that occasionally pops up on the IRS website after people check their tax refund status. It means the IRS needs to spend a little more time reviewing your return, so you may not receive your refund after the standard 21 days.

Does Tax Topic 152 mean you’re getting a refund?

While it may be delayed, there is some good news that comes with Tax Topic 152. The good news is that you are entitled to a refund. In other words, you’re going to get money. You might just need to wait longer than expected.

How do you check your refund status?

If you haven’t heard of Tax Topic 152 before, chances are that you haven’t tried to check your status on the Internal Revenue Service website. If you file electronically and ask for refunds in the form of direct deposits, you should give it a try if you haven’t already.

To check your refund claims, follow these steps:

  1. Go to “Where’s My Refund?” on the IRS website.
  2. Enter your taxpayer identification number (or Social Security number), expected refund amount, as well as any other information requested.
  3. Click “Check My Status.”

Why did I get Tax Topic 152?

It’s one of many different codes that help you understand the status of the return received. Tax Topic 152 usually comes with the below paragraph:

“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.”

Example Topic 152 message

Delays can happen for a wide range of reasons, including:

  • Amended return. Your return may be delayed if you submitted an amended return or have refund claims with a request for an individual taxpayer identification number (TIN) included. The more paperwork you have, the longer it’ll take to get a refund approved. Amended returns are one of the most common reasons for a reference code to pop up. It can take up to 20 weeks to get a refund from a return.
  • Late filing. Prompt filers will have their returns reviewed first. If you submitted your tax information after the due date, then your return will be delayed.
  • Form 1042-S of 1042-NR. Claiming a refund of tax withheld via Form 1042-S or Form 1042-NR can cause major delays. It can take as long as six months to get a return.
  • Paper return. Many people who file paper returns see major delays. Tax returns filed electronically tend to have a front seat to the filing.
  • Injured spouse. If you file an injured spouse claim, this can also slow things down. Even if you got an e-file acceptance notification, it will take longer for this type of filing to get reviewed.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). If you have an EITC or similar, you may also occasionally have a delay. This is often done as a result of further review, or because there is something holding up refunds related to them.

Can you talk to the IRS if you get Topic 152?

There are a lot of different tax topics that can pop up from checking the “Where’s My Refund” function. The tool is there to help taxpayers know what to expect.

In most cases, you shouldn’t bother trying to reach out to an IRS representative—at least not for the first 21 days. However, if you don’t receive your refund for several months, you may want to reach out to someone.

When can you check the “Where’s My Refund?” status?

It takes 24 hours after your e-filed return was accepted, and can take as long as four weeks before your paper return is accepted. If you still haven’t gotten any updates on a refund, contact the IRS via phone or email to determine what could have happened.

Pro Tip

If you have reason to believe that your return was not processed or that there was an error, call the IRS. They may need to review your return.

How to speed up your tax refund

If your return is delayed or you just want to get that money into your account faster, it’s important to know what you can do to speed up your refund. These tips can help:

  • File early. This is especially helpful if you have amended returns or need to get an EIN. The more paperwork you have, the more time it’ll take to get a tax refund.
  • Direct deposit. You can get your money directly deposited into your bank account. Both savings and checking accounts can receive refunds. All you have to do is fill out the online direct deposit form when you e-file your tax return. It’s the fastest way tax filers can get their cash.
  • Third-party services. You can also use certain services that allow you to streamline your refund. The IRS also teams up with several participating companies for a faster refund. These include CashApp, TreasuryDirect, some banks, and several tax preparation companies.
  • Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional advice if you’re in trouble. If you have complex tax returns, then you might as well ask for help. The Taxpayers Advocate service by the IRS can help, as can the help of a qualified accountant.

If you just need a little extra help filing your taxes and either can’t afford or don’t need a full-time accountant, you may be better off with an online tax service.

When should you worry about your delayed refund?

Generally speaking, you shouldn’t worry about your delayed refund unless it came with other codes involving alarming notices. If you get written mail from the IRS related to a tax review, a tax audit, or a matter of identity theft related to your TIN, then you may have reason to be alarmed.

Thankfully, the IRS reports these issues through written correspondence rather than a generic reference code. If you receive notice of an issue with your taxes, don’t wait until the next tax year to fix it.

Pro Tip

Always confirm that you’re getting correspondence from an IRS representative or the IRS itself. In 2020 alone, the IRS found that tax fraud schemes collected over $2.3 billion. Don’t be a victim!

What’s the easiest way to talk to the IRS?

The IRS has a great email relay system that can help you learn more about delays in a tax return. They also have a chatbot that answers quick questions.

However, some problems require a more detailed conversation. If you’re in a situation that requires more human interaction, you can call them or book an appointment at a nearby branch.


Should I worry about Tax Topic 152?

While it may seem like an alarming note to get, it is not a major reason to stress. In most cases, it simply means your payment will be delayed. It may be annoying, but it’s not a sign that you will incur serious issues when you file.

Does Topic 152 mean I need to verify my identity?

Tax Topic 152 has nothing to do with fraud or any sort of data breach. It’s just a sign your refund was accepted, that your tax return information was processed, and that you have to wait longer. This message alone means that no additional steps need to be taken.

However, if you get an official note from the IRS requiring additional information (as in, from the website or from an email), you may have to follow more steps.

How long does it usually take for the IRS to process refunds?

As far as a major financial institution goes, it’s hard to improve on the IRS. 90% of households will get their tax refund in under 21 days. That means a normal time frame would be between seven to 21 days after the tax return was accepted.

What should I do if I believe my tax return check got lost?

While the IRS does its best to get refunds to every taxpayer, hiccups can happen. If you have chosen to get your refund check mailed to your address, then there is a small chance that it could have been stolen or lost in the mail. Here’s what to do in that case:

  1. Check the refund status. If it’s still processing or doesn’t show payment information, you may have to wait longer.
  2. Mailed return. If the system shows that it has been mailed, then you may need to speak with an IRS representative. You can usually use their online answering service for this.
  3. Lost check. If the rep finds that your check has been lost, they will make sure a trace is put on the check. In the meantime, the prior check will be voided. A new check will be sent to you. Don’t worry, no one can legally cash your check aside from you.

Key Takeaways

  • Topic 152 simply means that your tax refund is delayed.
  • If you get this message when you check your refund status, then you don’t have to take additional steps.
  • The sooner you file during tax season, the faster your refund will be processed.
  • Additional paperwork, filing late, and filing an EITC will delay the status of your tax return.
  • You can always reach out to the IRS if you feel like your refund is extended beyond the normal timeframe.
View Article Sources
  1. Topic No. 152 Refund Information — IRS
  2. Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions — IRS
  3. IRS Letters and Notices: What To Do If You Got One — SuperMoney
  4. What Is Tax Planning? A Guide For Beginners — SuperMoney
  5. How to Get Out of Tax Debt: Options and Solutions — SuperMoney
  6. Optima Tax Relief — SuperMoney
  7. The Best Tax Relief Companies | March 2022 — SuperMoney
  8. Best Tax Relief Companies with Tax Attorneys On Staff | April 2022 — SuperMoney