PATH Act delays some tax refunds and when the PATH Act lifts

The PATH Act will delay your tax refund until after February 15th if you claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and/or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on your tax return. The PATH Act lifts on February 16th each year. It does not apply to people who only claimed the Child Tax Credit (CTC)

Key Points

  • Your tax refund is not legally allowed to be released by the IRS until after February 15th if you claimed the the EITC and/or the ACTC on your tax return.
  • The PATH Act law was passed in 2015 which became effective 2017 and applies every year.
  • It does not apply to all people with children. If you only filed the Child Tax Credit (CTC) it does not apply.
  • You can expect a message on the IRS Where’s My Refund (WMR) tool about the PATH Act until February 15th when those returns start to begin processing.
  • On 2/16 transcripts will update with Refund Issued TC 846. If it doesn’t you may see other transaction codes. On 2/17 the WMR should update when to expect your deposit.
  • The earliest direct deposit will be on 2/16 for those people with No Hold Banks (NHB).

If it is your first time claiming the EITC and/or the ACTC you might question why your tax refund will be held. Maybe you just need a refresher and question if the PATH Act still applies this year. Either way, you probably wonder when the PATH Act lifts and when to expect your tax refund deposit.

The PATH Act law applies every year for taxpayers who claim the EITC and/or the ACTC on their tax return. It is a law that has been in place since 2015 and became effective in 2017. The provisions of the PATH Act stipulate that certain tax refunds be held until after February 15th. It will remain in place unless a new law changes it. It does not apply to everyone who has children. If you claimed only the regular Child Tax Credit (CTC) your refund will not be delayed.

Check your Tax Return for PATH

If you are not sure what credit you claimed, you can look at your Form 1040. Go to our guide to help find out if you claimed these credits, how to find them, and which will delay your tax refund.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 is part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 enacted on December 18, 2015 and became effective for tax year 2016. The first refunds that were affected were those filed in February 2017. You can read the actual language and more about it here.

Where’s My Refund

Once your return has been processed you can see the status with the Where’s My Refund tool at If your refund is delayed because of the Path Act it will show this message.

According to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS cannot issue refunds before mid-February for tax returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. This applies to the entire refund, even the portion not associated with these credits.

Check Where’s My Refund in mid-to-late February for your personalized refund status. It’s updated once a day and remains the best way to check the status of your refund.

Please read the following information related to your tax situation:

Tax Topic 152, Refund Information

Tax Refund Chart

You can see when we expect to see the first direct deposits on our tax refund chart.

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