what does tax topic 152 mean
March 03, 2023

What Does Tax Topic 152 Mean? Is it Good or Bad?

Personal Taxes

Numbers suggest that tax refund delays aren’t common. According to the statistics, the IRS processes over 90% of tax returns within three weeks.

Still, every year millions of taxpayers are referred to tax topic 152 for further clarifications of the factors that can delay their tax refunds.

So, is seeing tax topic 152 on your account good or bad?

The answer is neither. The good part is that this tax topic doesn’t always indicate there’s something wrong with your tax return. Hence, the IRS won’t require any action on your part.

The bad news is that your tax refund will be delayed. It’s difficult to estimate by how much because the IRS might need anywhere between a few days and a few months to complete the review of your tax return.

Read on to find out what tax topic 152 means and why it may appear on your account.

The Meaning of Tax Topic 152

Image Credit: refundtalk.com

Where’s My Refund tool is available to all taxpayers with IRS online accounts. You can use this tool to monitor the status of your tax return.

Tax topic 152 is a reference code that appears in the tool’s Return Received tab if the IRS needs more than three weeks to process a tax return. The code refers to a webpage with the same title on the IRS website.

You won’t find the reason why processing your tax return takes longer than usual in this tab. Tax Topic 152, Refund Information link at the bottom will take you to the page on the IRS website where you can read about the issues that can delay a tax refund.

The Return Received tab and tax topic 152 provide only vague information about how long the delay might be. Still, this tax topic should disappear from your account within two weeks unless the IRS initiates an audit.

Implications of Tax Topic 152

This reference code doesn’t have a negative connotation because its purpose is only to inform a taxpayer about the reasons why the IRS put the processing of their tax return on hold.

Consequently, seeing the tax topic 152 doesn’t mean your tax return was rejected or that you have to contact the IRS. In most cases, the IRS doesn’t need a taxpayer’s assistance to fix a problem that caused the processing delay.

Tax topic 151 will replace tax topic 152 on your account if the IRS determines your tax return requires an additional review.

However, you’ll receive a notice explaining the reason why an additional review is needed and the steps you must take before the processing stage can continue.

It’s worth adding that this reference code sometimes appears on an account due to backlogs caused by a variety of reasons that aren’t specified in tax topic 152.

6 Likely Causes of Tax Topic 152

Filing a paper tax return is one of the most common reasons why a tax topic 152 is added to taxpayers’ accounts. Still, it is far from being the only possible reason why the processing of your tax return is taking longer than expected.

Here are some of the most likely causes of tax topic 152.

1. A Tax Return Contains Incorrect Information

In 2022, the IRS sent 17 million math error notices. Tax topic 303 will appear on your account if you miscalculated your taxable income or typed your taxpayer identification number incorrectly. These common errors are easily corrected, and they shouldn’t delay your refund significantly.

2. Filing an Amended Return

This tax topic would appear on your account if you had to file an amended return to correct mistakes from your original tax return. The IRS needs up to three weeks for an amended return to the Individual Master File system and around twenty weeks to process them.

Taxpayers can use the Where’s My Amended Return tool to keep track of their return’s status.

3. A Tax Return with an Attached ITIN

Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) are issued to taxpayers who cannot obtain a social security number (SSN). The IRS needs more than three weeks to process tax returns that arrive with an application for the ITIN.

Tax topic 857 might show up on your account, along with tax topic 152, if you filed a tax return with an ITIN application.

4. US Nonresident Alien Income Tax Returns

Processing of tax returns filed with Form 1040-NR that claims taxes withheld from Form 1040-S can take up to six months. US nonresident aliens will see tax topic 152 on their accounts due to long processing times.

5. Child Tax and EITC Credit Claims

Taxpayers eligible for Earned Income and Child Tax credits usually receive their tax refunds in late February or early March. However, the IRS sometimes requires additional reviews of tax returns eligible for these tax credits.

The delay can cause the tax topic 152 to show up on a taxpayer’s account, but this isn’t a reason for concern.

6. Injured Spouse Claims

Taxpayers who file joint returns with their partners may be eligible for an injured spouse claim if they’re not responsible for their spouse’s debt. These tax returns take longer to process due to their complexity, and they’re usually accompanied by tax topic 152.

What to Do if Tax Topic 152 Pops Up On Your Account

The only negative side of seeing tax topic 152 on your account is that you won’t receive your tax refund on time.

The IRS might opt to review your tax return further, but in this case, tax topic 152 will disappear, and you’ll be referred to tax topic 151.

However, this usually happens if the math on your tax return isn’t correct or if you failed to provide sufficient evidence for your tax credit claim.

In most cases, tax topic 152 suggests that tax return processing was temporarily postponed, and it doesn’t imply the IRS intends to reject your refund. Although seeing the tax topic on your account isn’t great news, it’s not bad news either, especially if the IRS doesn’t send you a notice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some FAQs to help you understand what tax topic 152 means.

How to Avoid the Tax Topic 152?

Taxpayers who submit their tax returns on paper are more likely to see tax topic 152 on their IRS accounts. Hence, switching to e-filing is one of the best ways to avoid this tax topic.

Also, ensuring all information on your tax return is accurate will lower your chances of having to deal with tax topic 152 issues.

Does Tax Topic 152 Mean My Tax Return is Being Audited?

This tax topic can mean the IRS plans to audit your tax return. You’ll receive a letter requesting additional information if the processing delay indicated by tax topic 152 was caused by an issue that requires an audit.

What Happens After Tax Topic 152 Disappears From My Account?

The IRS will proceed to approve and issue your refund once the tax topic 152 is removed from your account. In this scenario, you should expect a tax refund to be in your bank account within a few weeks.

Tax topic 151 will appear on your account once tax topic 152 disappears in more complex cases, and you’ll have to amend the incorrect information in your tax return or provide evidence for a tax credit claim.

How Long Do I Have to Wait for Tax Topic 152 to Disappear From My Account?

It’s difficult to estimate how much time the IRS will need to process your return after tax topic 152 is removed from your account. Some tax returns take months to process even though they don’t contain false information, while certain issues are resolved in less than a week. 

Final Thoughts

The best solution is to be patient if you see the tax topic 152 on your account. The IRS will notify you if they encounter a problem with your tax return they can’t resolve with your assistance.

In addition, the tax topic on your account will change once the IRS sends you a math error notice or an audit letter.

So, in most cases, tax topic 152 will only mean that your tax return takes longer to process because it was filed on paper or it contains a tax credit or injured spouse claim.

Hence, this tax topic isn’t always the bearer of bad news, and sometimes it can mean that you’re only weeks away from receiving your tax refund.


Logan Allec, CPA

Logan is a practicing CPA and founder of Choice Tax Relief and Money Done Right. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

Back to top  
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments