Published: December 2, 2023

Tax Topic 152

Tax Topic 152: When Will I Get My Tax Refund?

You've been waiting on pins and needles for your tax refund, but it hasn't hit your bank account or appeared in your mailbox yet. So, you run to Where's My Refund to check the status, and it says Tax Topic 152. What does this mean? Is it good or bad? Will you still get your refund? If so, when? 

If you've received Tax Topic 152 about your tax refund, you probably have all kinds of questions and concerns. To help you out, this post dives into the essentials. 

What Is Tax Topic 152?

Tax Topic 152 means the IRS is processing your refund. That's all it means. The IRS has received your tax refund, and the agency is processing it. For some reason, processing is taking longer than usual, but unfortunately, this Tax Topic doesn't explain why processing is taking so long. 

What to Do If You Get Tax Topic 152

You have two options: call the IRS or wait. If you call the IRS, be prepared to wait on hold for a significant amount of time. To speed up the process, call the number that you see on Where's My Refund. The IRS has multiple phone numbers, and this should be the most direct number possible. Also, make sure that you have a copy of your tax return as well as any other codes noted when you checked Where's My Refund.

How Long Does Topic 152 Processing Take?

Unfortunately, processing times can vary. Some people see Topic 152 and they receive their refund a few weeks later. Others may have this status on their account for over a year. 

Why Is Processing Taking So Long?

The IRS processes about 90% of tax returns in less than three weeks. The other 10% of returns can take a long time to process. Here are some reasons that processing may be delayed:

  • You filed a paper return.
  • You amended a return from a previous year, requesting a refund. 
  • You attached an injured spouse claim to your tax return.
  • You filed a Form 1040-NR requesting a refund of taxes withheld on Form 1042-S. 
  • You filed early, and the IRS doesn't release refunds related to Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) until mid-February.

These are the reasons noted on the IRS's webpage about Tax Topic 152, but they are not the only reasons for delayed processing. The IRS may also delay processing if you have requested a large refund but haven't filed previous years' returns or if there are other potential issues with your IRS account. 

You may also receive processing delays if your tax return has an error. However, if the IRS has already discovered the error, you may see a different status rather than 152. In particular, you may see Tax Topic 303. Possible errors include misspelling names, putting in the wrong bank account information, or not choosing the correct filing status. Many other types of errors, such as miscalculating tax, generally only apply if you filed on paper and didn't use a computer to calculate the numbers. 

What to Expect When the IRS Updates Your Account

 If you're seeing Tax Topic 152, the IRS may resolve the issue in a few different ways. In the best-case scenario, the IRS completes processing and sends you your full tax refund. Alternatively, the IRS may decide to review your tax return, and in that case, the agency will generally change your refund status to Tax Topic 151.

When to Request a Refund Trace

If you've been waiting a long time for a tax refund, you can request a trace using Form 3911. However, you may want to talk with a tax pro or call the IRS before filing this form. Note that the IRS recommends that individual filers start the process on Where's My Refund. This includes people who file as single, married filing separately and head of household.


How to Avoid Future Delays

If you get big tax refunds, you probably look forward to them all year long. So, how do you avoid facing this issue in the future? How do you make sure that your return is one of the 90% of returns that are processed within three weeks? Although there's never a guarantee (the IRS could theoretically delay processing any return), these tips can help:

  1. File electronically, not through the mail.
  2. Make sure the numbers on your return match the numbers that the IRS receives from other parties, such as your employer (W2), banks (1099-INT), clients (1099-NEC), miscellaneous entities (1099-MISC), payment processors (1099-K), etc.
  3. Double-check for errors with your personal details, including your name, Social Security number, address, bank account details, etc.
  4. Work with a tax pro to reduce the risk of mistakes on your tax return. 
  5. Request direct deposit — although this won't necessarily help you avoid processing delays, it will generally help you get your refund faster.


Tax Topic 152 is pretty confusing, and unfortunately, even the IRS website doesn't really clear up most people's questions. If you still have questions, take a look at these FAQs or contact a tax pro directly.

Is Tax Topic 152 good or bad? 

Tax Topic 152 is bad in the sense that it indicates your refund has been delayed due to processing. However, it doesn't have any other bad implications. At this point, the good news is that you are not facing a review, an audit, or changes to your tax refund. However, if the IRS notices issues during processing, then, you may face an audit, a review, and/or changes to your refund amount. 

Why has my refund been marked as Tax Topic 152 for three months?

If you've been seeing Tax Topic 152 for three months, it means that the IRS is still processing your tax return. To see what's happening, consider contacting the IRS directly. Otherwise, there's not much you can do but wait. 

Does Tax Topic 152 mean an audit?

No, Tax Topic 152 does not mean that the IRS is auditing your tax return. If the IRS selects your return for an audit, Where's My Refund will note the audit status, and you will also receive an audit notification letter in the mail. 

What Does Tax Topic 152 mean when my refund amount is gone?

Usually, when Where Is My Refund shows Tax Topic 152, it also shows the expected amount of your refund on the left side of the page. If the refund amount is gone, it doesn't mean that the IRS has changed your refund. Again, it simply means that the IRS is processing your tax return. In some cases, the refund amount may disappear for months and then reappear. 

How to Get Help With Tax Topic 152

You want your refund, but Tax Topic 152 indicates that the IRS is still processing. What should you do? Unfortunately, there may not be a lot that you can do to speed up the process, but you can try these steps.

  • Call the IRS — When you call, make sure that you have your tax return, the amount of your refund, and any other relevant details. Give yourself lots of time for the phone call, and be aware that you might not get answers over the phone. 
  • Reach out to The Taxpayer Advocates — This independent part of the IRS provides help to taxpayers who don't get responses in the usual time frame. If you cannot get help over the phone, and it's been a few months, you may want to call the advocate service. 
  • Visit an IRS office — The IRS has offices all over the country. You can use the Taxpayer Assistance Center officer locator to find the closest option to you.
  • Call a tax professional — A tax professional with refund experience may be able to help you. Reach out to a local pro in your area.

Use TaxCure to find a local tax professional who can help with refund issues, filing old tax returns, or other problems. Missing your state tax refund as well? Then, make sure you look for a local pro who is experienced in your state.

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