Beginning in 2017, if you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on your tax return, the IRS must hold your refund until at least February 15.
This new law, approved by Congress, requires the IRS to hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC. This change helps ensure that you receive the refund you are owed by giving the agency more time to help detect and prevent fraud.
As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns once the filing season begins. You can file as you normally do. Even though the IRS cannot issue refunds for some early filers until at least February 15, most refunds will still be issued within the normal timeframe: in less than 21 days, after being accepted for processing by the IRS.
Be careful when planning any financial obligations that are based on any specific refund date when claiming these credits. This includes being cautious of loan and preparer fee agreements where repayment is dependent upon the refund. Be especially aware of any stated repayment dates that are earlier than February 15. You don’t want to incur more costs by committing to any re-payment schedule that requires a full payment before the refund will actually become available.
You can check the status of your refund with the Where's My Refund? tool on IRS.gov or the IRS2Go Mobile App. Where’s My Refund? remains the best way to check the status of your refund after February 15.