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What is the PATH Act and How Does It Affect Your Tax Return?

Ever wonder why your refund might arrive a little later than you thought it would? This usually happens because of something called the PATH Act, which was passed in 2015 to help protect taxpayers against tax-related fraud.

What is the PATH Act?

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) was passed December 18, 2015, and included measures to protect Americans against identity theft and tax fraud.


Why is my refund delayed?

Every year, millions of Americans wonder where their tax refund is and why it hasn’t yet arrived. Under the PATH Act, all tax refunds that include the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and/or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), must be held until after February 14 of the tax processing year.  

How will the PATH Act affect me in 2019?

Tax reform didn’t make any changes to the PATH Act laws, so refunds with EITC and the Additional Child Tax Credit will not be released until after February 14, and employers must send W-2s to the IRS by January 31. The delay in refund and early submissions of W-2s allow the IRS more time to verify income, withholding, and credit eligibility in an attempt to reduce tax fraud and tax ID theft.


The IRS releases all pending refunds February 15 and later, so you should see your refund in your account, or in the mail, by the end of February.  If you still don’t have your refund four to six weeks after February 15, or your filing date, whichever is later, go to the IRS page titled: Where’s My Refund?





A full summary of the PATH Act and all its provisions can be read here.

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