IRS Tax Topic 152: What You Need to Know? 

It’s been at least two weeks since you filed your tax return. By now, you can expect your annual tax refund to arrive by mail or via direct deposit any day – but no matter how often you refresh your banking app, nothing’s come in. Should you be worried? Probably not.  

According to the IRS, about 90 percent of all tax returns are processed and refunds issued within 21 days.  

But for the other ten percent, they may receive a referral to Tax Topic No. 152. As intimidating as it might sound, this is nothing to worry about. Tax Topic No. 152 is a general pamphlet about refund delays, and a referral to Tax Topic 152 is basically the IRS’ way of saying that things are taking a little longer than expected.  

Delays were much more common during the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, at which point a significantly larger portion of people came to receive a referral to Tax Topic 152. As the number implies, Tax Topic 152 is just one of several different pamphlets or help pages that the IRS may ask taxpayers to refer to depending on their situation.  


Is Receiving a Tax Topic 152 Referral Normal?  

It is one of the more common referral codes, specifically because Tax Topic 152 is a generic code. This means that the IRS isn’t saying there’s anything wrong with your tax return in particular, but that it will take longer for your refund to arrive. That being said, it doesn’t mean that you can’t pinpoint what went “wrong”, so to speak.  


Reasons for a Tax Topic 152 Referral  

The IRS itself lists a few common reasons why your tax return might be taking a little longer to process than usual. These include: 


Filing a Tax Return the Old-Fashioned Way

Yes, the IRS still processes tax returns sent in via mail – but for logistical reasons, these take a while longer to process than electronically filed returns. Expect to wait six weeks rather than three.  


Filing An Amended Return

If you’re expecting a refund for an amended return filed because of mistakes made in the first return, you will need to wait much longer than usual. Processing an amended income tax return (Form 1040-X) can take up to 16 weeks 


Claiming an EITC or the Additional Child Tax Credit

Certain tax credits are specifically made available to lower income taxpayers, which requires more financial verification. This means your tax refund may take longer to process.  


Claiming an Injured Spouse

For the same reason that the IRS takes longer to process a return with certain refundable tax credits, claiming injured spouse relief means waiting longer.  


Filing as a Nonresident Alien 

If you are not a US citizen, your tax returns may take much longer to process.


Should I Call the IRS?  

If your tax account has been informed of a delay in the processing of your return and a referral to Tax Topic No. 152, the truth is that the best thing you can do is sit tight. It’s a generic referral, meaning the IRS is letting you know that things might be taking a little longer than usual, but not because of any serious issues.  

However, if you do feel the need to get in touch with the IRS, wait until after the usual timeframe for the refund has elapsed. The IRS explains that its agents can help you out with the status of your tax return, but only if it’s been more than three weeks since you received an e-file acceptance notification, or six weeks since you mailed your paper tax return 

Even then, temper your expectations. It may take time for the IRS to figure out why your return has been delayed in particular, especially if you haven’t received any other letters or notices 


Actions You Can Take to Avoid a Tax Topic 152 Referral 

There are a few ways you can potentially expedite your tax refund, or at least minimize the risk of receiving a notice to check Tax Topic No. 152.  

File Electronically

E-filing makes sure that your return makes its way to the IRS safely and quickly – instantaneously, even. It’s also generally easier and cheaper than filing per mail.  


Use Direct Deposit

Your tax refund may be in the bank sooner rather than later if you opt for direct deposit through your income tax return form. If you wish, you can also opt to send in a filled-out Form 8888 to split your refund across multiple designated accounts.  


Seek Professional Tax Preparation Services

Mistakes cost time. If you made a mistake on your return, the IRS must either rectify the mistake, or provide notice of the error and ask that you send in an amended return – which takes longer to process, as well.  

On the off chance that you’ve done everything “right” and the IRS is still delaying your tax return, your best bet is to wait a little past the usual due date for a refund, and then check in to find out what’s going on.  


In Summary 

Tax Topic No. 152 refers to generic refund information issued by the IRS to help explain why your refund might be delayed past the usual 21-day timeframe. The IRS clarifies that about 9 in 10 tax refunds are sent out in a timely manner, but there are a few factors that might cause a tax refund to be delayed, such as claiming certain credits, or filing a paper return.  

What really matters here is that you don’t have to do anything. The IRS will not be able to explain to you why your refund may be taking longer than usual unless you wait until the 21-day timeframe has passed (or, in the case of a paper return, six weeks) – and even then, it may take a while for your support contact at the IRS to get to the bottom of why your return is taking longer than usual to process.  

If you can’t determine why your return has been delayed (especially if none of the aforementioned reasons apply to your case), then your best bet is to wait a little longer. If the IRS is delaying your return for a specific reason, such as a math error or a thorough review of your return’s details, they will refer you to a different topic number 

You may want to consider seeking professional tax help if the IRS continues to delay your refund, or if your return is being flagged for mistakes. Not only can our team at Rush Tax Resolutions help you get to the bottom of your delay, but we can also help you decipher and address other IRS topic referrals, letters, and notices.  Contact us to learn more today!