One of the biggest questions I've been seeing this year are what the various reference codes mean on the IRS Refund Status Tool (previously known as "Where's My Refund") - or on the IRS2Go app. A lot of tax filers are getting IRS Reference Codes back, but don't know what they mean and don't know if they are in trouble.
For more information on WMR, check out When To Expect My Tax Refund Tax Calendar.
However, finding the IRS reference codes has also been one of the hardest things to track down this year, especially with all the changes to the way the IRS is processing refunds.
Anyway, here are the IRS Where's My Refund Tool Reference codes. You read this chart by first looking for your code, then seeing what the error is. Each error has a specific set of steps that the IRS will follow, called Inquiry Response Procedure. Here is the list of what the IRM Codes mean.
Also, if you're concerned about a generic message that says "Refer to Tax Topic 152", all that means is check out these tips about getting your refund. Here is a link to Tax Topic 152.
We put together a list of common errors and issues, you can check it out here: IRS Where's My Refund Common Questions.
IRS Tax Refund Reference Codes
1001 - Refund paper check mailed more than 4 weeks ago
1021 - BFS part offset, check mailed more than 4 weeks ago (contact BFS at 1-800-304-3107)
1061 - BFS part offset, direct deposit more than 1 week ago (contact BFS at 1-800-304-3107)
1081 - IRS full or partial offset, paper check mailed more than 4 weeks ago
1091 - IRS full or partial offset, direct deposit more than one week ago
1101 - No data, taxpayer filed paper return more than 6 weeks ago
1102 - No data, taxpayer filed electronic return more than 3 weeks ago
1121 - Problem identified; P-Freeze (We've discovered that this is typically a typo on the return)
1141 - Refund delayed liability on another account (this means you owe a government entity money)
1161 - Refund delayed, bankruptcy on account
1181 - Refund delayed, pulled for review, not within 7 cycles conduct account analysis
1201 - All other conditions not covered by a status code conduct account analysis
1221 - Refund delayed, pulled for review, within 7 cycles conduct account analysis
1241 - Paper return received more than 6 weeks ago; in review, notice for additional information will be received
1242 - Electronic return received more than 3 weeks ago; –E Freeze; in review, notice for additional information will be received
1261 - Paper return received more than 6 weeks ago; –Q Freeze; in review, notice for additional information will be received
1262 - Electronic return received more than 3 weeks ago; -Q Freeze; in review, notice for additional information will be received
1301 - Fact of Filing Electronic return received more than 3 weeks ago; no other information See IRM 22.214.171.124.1.2, Return Found/Not Processed
1341 - Refund delayed, liability on another account
1361 - Refund withheld for part/full payment of another tax liability
1381 - Refund withheld for part/full payment of another tax liability
1401 - Refund withheld for part/full payment of another tax liability
1421 - Refund delayed bankruptcy on account; -V Freeze; more than 8 weeks
1441 - Refund delayed, SSN, ITIN or Name mismatch with SSA/IRS; return posted to Invalid Segment
1461 - Taxpayer is advised their refund check was mailed undelivered by the Postal Service. Taxpayer is provided the option to update their address online. Check account to determine if the taxpayer changed their address online. If address is changed, advise taxpayer their request is being processed. If taxpayer did not change their address, follow instructions in IRM 126.96.36.199.3, Undeliverable Refund Checks.
1481 - Refund delayed, return Unpostable
1501 - Direct Deposit between 1 and 2 weeks ago, check with bank, file check claim
1502 - Direct Deposit more than 2 weeks ago, check with bank, file check claim
1521 - No data, paper return taxpayer filed more than 6 weeks ago; TIN not validated
1522 - No data, taxpayer filed electronic return more than 3 weeks ago; TIN not validated
1541 - Offset Overflow freeze set when offset storage within IDRS is not large enough to hold all generated transactions, or credit balance has been completely offset and two or more debit modules still exist
1551 - Frivolous Return Program freeze
1561 - Excess credit freeze set when the taxpayer claims fewer credits than are available
1571 - Erroneous refund freeze initiated
1581 - Manual refund freeze with no TC 150, or, return is Coded CCC "O" and TC 150 posted without TC 840
2007/2008 - Taxpayer’s check returned undelivered by the Postal Service and taxpayer does not meet Internet Refund Fact of Filing (IRFOF) eligibility. For example account may have an additional liability, or a freeze code other than S-. Analyze account and take appropriate action.
2009 - Taxpayer’s check returned undelivered by the Postal Service and taxpayer does not meet IRFOF eligibility. Taxpayer does not pass disclosure through IRFOF due to lack of data on IRFOF.
2015 - Savings bond request denied - partial offset - more than 3 weeks from refund date
2016 - Savings bond request denied - total offset
2017 - Savings bond request allowed - more than 3 weeks from refund date
5501 - Split direct deposit - partial offset - more than 2 weeks from refund date
5510 - Split direct deposit - returned by the bank - check mailed - with partial offset
5511 - Split direct deposit - returned by the bank - check mailed
8001 - Paper return taxpayer filed more than 6 weeks ago, failed authentication
8002 - Electronic return taxpayer filed more than 3 weeks ago, failed authentication
9001 - Where's My Refund System Error. Before you freak out and leave a comment, read our full article on IRS Code 9001 and What It Really Means?
9021 - Reference Code for all math error conditions Analyze account and follow appropriate IRM
9022 - Math error on return. Direct deposit more than 1 week ago Analyze account and follow appropriate IRM
9023 - Math error on return. Refund paper check mailed more than 4 weeks ago Analyze account and follow appropriate IRM
9024 - Math error on return. Balance due more than $50 Analyze account and follow appropriate IRM
If You Get a Reference Code on Your WMR
If you check Where's My Refund (WMR) and see you have a reference code, you should identify the code and see if any action is required.
In many cases, no action is required on your part. One of the most common codes is 9001, which, as you can see, just means you accessed WMR using a different SSN or TIN. Once the IRS analyzes to ensure no fraud has taken place, you will get your return like normal.
If there is an issue, the IRS will typically send you a letter to your mailing address within 90 days stating what the issue was, and any additional information required.
If you have any questions, you can contact the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.