IRS Unpostable Delay for Tax Refund

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Unpostable Overview

If your tax refund is delayed there may be a problem with a transaction that is unpostable in the IRS Master File system while your tax return is still being processed. Each transaction on your account must pass a series of validity checks prior to posting to the system. Your tax return could have been affected by an unpostable transaction. An unpostable transaction is one that has failed automated accuracy, validity and consistency checks. As a result, it is not allowed to post in the system and is returned to another system for follow up action. Your tax return is pending further action.

If something is unpostable, you might not see an update on the Where’s My Refund (WMR) tool. It could say nothing other than still processing or you could see a WMR reference code. Another signal that your tax return had a transaction that couldn’t post is your IRS account transcript may be blank. There are three ways to get an IRS transcript.

Unpostable returns most commonly involve validity processing and entity mismatches. An example cause for an unpostable transaction is that some date or money amount did not match. An unpostable doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong with your specific tax return. It could be a systemic problem with the IRS processing systems.

How to Resolve Unpostable Tax Return

Once a transaction is unpostable the next steps are mostly handled “behind the scenes” at the IRS and you just have to wait until it is resolved. However, sometimes the IRS may need to obtain information from you to help resolve open unpostable cases. They might send correspondence that requires your reply. Or if you call the IRS and talk to a human, they might probe you with questions that depend on the nature of the unpostable issue.

When an unpostable transaction happens, the tax return is handled by another IRS system before it can continue processing.

Resolution Time

Generally speaking, the IRS suggests it can be 6-8 weeks to correct an unpostable. High priority is given to processing unpostables related to refunds. If there is a systemic problem there is also a high priority placed to minimize taxpayer impact. However, this doesn’t always mean an unpostable will definitely take that long to resolve, it could be sooner.

If you are experiencing financial difficulty because of an unpostable delay, you can contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). A taxpayer advocate can intervene to help resolve some cases they work directly with the IRS.

Responding to Taxpayer Inquiries

The IRS manual says unpostable cases must begin being worked within seven business days. But that doesn’t mean resolved. In most cases if you call the IRS, the agent is instructed to tell you it could take 6-8 weeks to be resolved. Unpostables are usually resolved within eight weeks according to IRM 21.5.5.3.3.

Questions to Ask if You Call the IRS

If you are able to talk to a human at the IRS because your tax refund is delayed you could ask some specific questions. Some agents are familiar with unpostables and will talk to you about cases. They will especially speak to you if there is an open case when they need more information from you because it is necessary to close the case. The records about an unpostable might instruct agents to probe the taxpayer with questions regarding the nature of the case.

If an agent will talk to you about unpostables these are some questions you could ask:

  • Is there a delay related to an unpostable case?
  • Is the case open or closed?
  • What is the date of the unpostable case?
  • If the case is, what is the closing date?

The 6-8 week time frame starts on the date of the active unpostable. This is why the unpostable date and closing date are important.

When you call, agents are supposed to follow a flowchart for advising taxpayers of appropriate time frame for resolution. This flowchart is not all inclusive, only common scenarios are below.

Closed Unpostable

If an Unpostable is closed they are supposed to advise the taxpayer to allow 6 weeks from closing date for processing.

Unpostable due to TC150

If the unpostable is due to transcript transaction code 150, advise taxpayer to allow 9 weeks from closing date for processing. TC 150 simply indicates that your tax return has been processed and added to the main system.

Unpostable Open and LESS than 8 weeks since transaction went unpostable and taxpayer has received and responded to correspondence

Probe for information that may assist in resolving the case.

  • Probe for information that may assist in resolving the case.
  • Advise taxpayer of impact on account once transaction posts.
  • Advise taxpayer of impact on account once transaction posts.
  • Advise taxpayer to allow the appropriate number of weeks for processing, normally 6-8 weeks.

Unpostable Open and LESS than 8 weeks since transaction went unpostable and taxpayer has NOT received correspondence

  • Advise the taxpayer some problems have been encountered.
  • Probe for information that may assist in resolving the case.
  • Advise taxpayer of impact on account once transaction posts.
  • Advise taxpayer to allow the appropriate number of weeks for processing, normally 6-8 weeks.

Unpostable Open and MORE than 8 weeks since transaction went unpostable and you are unable to resolve.

  • Advise taxpayer you are notifying the appropriate function department.
  • Prepare Form 4442, Inquiry Referral, and refer case to the appropriate function.
  • Probe for information that may assist in resolving the case and include it on the Form 4442.
  • Advise taxpayer of impact on account once transaction posts.
  • Advise taxpayer to allow 8 weeks for processing

Unpostable Open, you are unable to resolve the same day and case meets Taxpayer Advocate criteria

Calendar of IRS Refund DatesIRS Posting Cycle CodesResequenced Tax Return

What happens in the IRS system when something is unpostable

The remainder of could be just for the nerds that really want to know what’s happening behind the scenes. The transaction is resolved in the General Unpostable Framework (GUF) with various actions before it is closed. This process is handled by the Wage and Investment (W&I) Division Submission Processing Input Corrections Operations (ICO) personnel. During the process of resolution unpostable cases can be referred to other areas such as Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU), Adjustments, Collections, Criminal Investigation (CI) or Taxpayer Advocate Services (TAS).

When an unpostable condition appears on an account a number of different things happen in the IRS system. This list is not all inclusive. Only common actions are listed.

Some codes are assigned for agents who process unpostables to see.

  • An unpostable code (UPC) is assigned that indicates a cause for unpostable.
  • A Reason Code (RC) may also be assigned that provides information why something was unable to post.

It is identified as pending with a status such as those below.

  • UNNN unpostable open case
  • NU nullified unpostable referred to another unit for corrective action
  • DU deleted unpostable and closed
  • CU Corrected unpostable.

There are many other pending status codes in the IRS system as the transactions are processed.

Once the transaction is corrected it will be identified as Corrected Unpostable (CU) in the system it is should continue processing in the next cycle. An unpostable resolution code (URC) is assigned.

Unpostable Codes and their definitions are listed in IRS Document 6209, Section 8B.3 This information is derived from the Unpostables section of the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) Part 21. Customer Account Services Chapter 5. Account Resolution Section 5.

Processing Unpostables

To fix IRS unpostables, the IRS has very specific procedures in the IRM.

Refer to the following IRMs for complete procedures for resolving unpostables:
IRM 3.12.279, BMF/CAWR/PMF Unpostable Resolution
IRM 3.13.122, IMF Entity Control Unpostables
IRM 3.13.222, BMF Entity Unpostable Correction Procedures

Read the detailed specific procedures from the IRS for processing unpostables.

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