The PATH Act made the following changes, which became effective for the 2017 filing season, to help prevent revenue loss due to identity theft and refund fraud related to fabricated wages and withholdings:
- The IRS may not issue a credit or refund to you before February 15th, if you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on your tax return.
- This change only affects returns claiming EITC or ACTC filed before February 15.
- The IRS will hold your entire refund, including any part of your refund not associated with the EITC or ACTC.
- Neither TAS, nor the IRS, can release any part of your refund before that date, even if you’re experiencing a financial hardship.
If you are facing a hardship, like a financial hardship (can’t buy medicine, can’t pay mortgage or rent and received an eviction notice, can’t pay utilities and got a shut off notice, etc.) and you need your refund sooner, the IRS may be able to expedite the refund. You will need to contact the IRS and explain your hardship situation.
The IRS may be able to expedite your refund
The IRS may be able to expedite your refund, if it is held up by a temporary backlog in processing — you may receive a letter or notice from the IRS telling you there’s a problem with your tax return or that your refund will be delayed. In that case, if you are experiencing a financial hardship, the IRS might be able to manually process your refund to get it to you sooner.
If you owe tax to the IRS from a prior tax year
If you owe tax to the IRS from a prior tax year, the IRS may be holding your refund to pay down that debt. But if you are facing a serious financial hardship and need your refund immediately, the IRS can consider not following its usual procedures of taking the refund. Instead, it may release and expedite part or all the refund to help with your hardship.
- Note: The IRS can only expedite a refund held to pay an IRS debt. If the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) is offsetting your refund for debts other than federal tax debts like past due student loans, child support, state unemployment compensation, or other federally insured debt, even with a serious financial hardship the IRS cannot issue you a refund.