PATH Act 2023 Updates: In-Depth Look

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Imagine for a moment; it’s the heart of tax season. You’re sitting at your dining room table, sifting through piles of paperwork, trying to make sense of the tax laws.

And then, you stumble upon a term that seems unfamiliar – the PATH Act. But fret not; as we delve into the PATH Act 2023 updates, we’ll journey together, navigating the intriguing world of tax legislation.

Key Takeaways

  • The PATH Act, or Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act, was introduced to secure tax returns and combat fraudulent claims. It significantly impacts the timeline for receiving tax refund, especially for those claiming EITC and ACTC.
  • In 2023, the IRS provided refund status updates from February 16, ahead of the original schedule. The first round of the tax refund was planned to be sent by February 22 for taxpayers who filed electronically and chose direct deposit.
  • The PATH Act impacts both the EITC and ACTC. Refunds for returns claiming these credits are held until mid-February, giving the IRS time to scrutinize these returns and prevent fraud.

What is PATH Act?

The PATH Act, or the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act, was signed into law on December 18, 2015, and it includes various provisions related to tax policy and administration that expand or renew many tax credits while implementing measures to prevent fraudulent claims for those credits.

It brought numerous updates to existing tax laws, introducing new regulations and extending some expiring tax laws. The PATH Act significantly impacted many Americans’ tax returns, particularly those claiming certain credits.


The PATH Act mainly affects early tax filing well before the April deadline. Under the 2022 Tax Year Act, the IRS must withhold tax refunds for returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until mid-February.

This delay allows the IRS time to scrutinize these tax returns more closely, protecting Americans from fraudulent claims.

One of the most significant impacts of the PATH Act is on the timing of tax refund. By delaying certain refunds, the IRS has more time to detect and prevent fraud, ensuring taxpayers’ hard-earned money doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

This might seem like a hassle for early tax filers, but it’s a crucial step in securing taxpayer bank accounts against identity thieves.

PATH Act 2023 Updates

This year, the IRS refund has made some adjustments to the PATH Act. They have advanced the personalized refund status updates, now available from February 16, 2023. This date is ahead of the IRS’s original schedule, a welcome change for taxpayers eagerly awaiting their refunds.

The first wave of PATH Act refunds, predominantly sent via direct deposit, was planned to be disbursed by February 22. This only applies to taxpayers who have chosen direct deposit as their refund method and have filed their taxes electronically.


Once the IRS completes processing these tax returns and approves the refunds, these early birds can expect to see their refunds in their bank accounts within a few days.

Estimations for direct deposit dates generally indicate that payments occur 3 to 5 days post-approval. However, if you’re receiving your federal refund via a paper check, the waiting period is typically extended by 5 to 7 days.

When keeping track of your refund status, remember two important dates. Firstly, your Where’s My Refund/IRS2Go status should update by February 18, and secondly, your refund should be paid out or direct deposited by February 28. In some cases, your refund payments arrive a few days earlier.

IRS PATH Act Refund Dates 2023

The IRS has projected that most EITC/ACTC-related refunds will reflect in your bank account or on debit cards by February 28 if taxpayers have chosen direct deposit and no other issues are present with their tax return. For some taxpayers, this date might come a bit earlier.

How Does the PATH Act Impact Earned Income Tax Credit?

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a monetary reprieve extended to working individuals and couples with low to moderate income, especially those with children.

The PATH Act holds significant implications for those who claim this credit, as it obliges the IRS to withhold the entire refund, encompassing even the portion unrelated to the EITC, until mid-February.

The primary motive behind this regulation is to provide the IRS with sufficient time to spot and counteract fraudulent claims, a recurring issue with EITC returns over the years.

Thus, while this may induce a minor postponement in receiving your refund, the PATH Act’s provisions are ultimately a protective mechanism for taxpayers and their refunds.


It’s essential to remember, while awaiting your refund, mainly if it’s integral to your significant expenses, that these measures are implemented to preserve the integrity of the tax system.

These rules act as a deterrent against identity thieves who may attempt to submit fraudulent early tax return under your name, a regrettable risk in our current digital era.

In addition, the PATH Act has permanently boosted the income phase-out threshold for the Earned Income Tax Credit by $5,000 for individuals who are married or filing jointly.

This indicates that couples who have earned slightly more than the original limit may now qualify to receive the total EITC for their specific income category.

PATH Act and Additional Child Tax Credit

The Additional Child Tax Credit, a refundable credit positively impacted by the PATH Act, is significant for many families. The credit offers a substantial tax break, allowing eligible families to claim up to 15% of their income above an initial $3,000. Let’s illustrate this with an example:

Consider a family that earned $40,000. The potential 15% refund would be calculated on $37,000 (the amount remaining after subtracting the $3,000 threshold).

Interestingly, the PATH Act plays a crucial role here. Had the expiring tax laws come into play, they would have increased this threshold to $10,000, which could lower the refund amount. However, the permanent threshold remains steadfast at $3,000 thanks to the PATH Act.


Why is there a delay in refunds with such a beneficial credit? The answer lies in the potential vulnerability of the ACTC to fraudulent claims. The PATH Act mandates that tax returns claiming the ACTC are held until mid-February, enabling the IRS to devote extra time to verify the legitimacy of these claims.

Yes, the delay may be inconvenient, but the reasoning is to ensure the proper distribution of the credit. This process ensures that the ACTC is received by those who are genuinely eligible.

An important note to remember is that the delay applies to your entire refund, including the portion not associated with the ACTC. This means that even if a part of your refund is not from the ACTC, you will still receive your entire refund simultaneously.

When Does the PATH Act Lift in 2023?

Start of Tax SeasonExpected PATH End DateActual PATH End DateRefund Payment Started By
January 23, 2023February 18, 2023February 16, 2023February 22, 2023
January 24, 2022February 15, 2022February 19, 2022March 1, 2022
February 12, 2021March 1, 2021March 4, 2021March 15, 2021
January 27, 2020February 16, 2020February 16, 2020February 27, 2020

Does The PATH ACT Mean My Refund Is Approved?

Seeing the PATH message doesn’t necessarily imply that your tax return has been processed and your tax refund approved. There could be other reasons your refund is being held, based on the IRS’s ongoing review process.

If you’ve been identified as a “PATHer,” it simply indicates that the IRS systems have recognized that you’re claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit on your tax return. Consequently, any further processing and payments associated with your refund are delayed during the mandated hold period.


Tools like Where’s My Refund or the IRS2Go app utilize the PATH message as a temporary indicator for all tax returns claiming these credits. This placeholder remains until the IRS lifts the hold on those returns.

Again, it’s crucial to understand that seeing the PATH message doesn’t mean your tax return has been completed and your refund approved. Your refund could be held back for various reasons based on the IRS’s meticulous review process.

In Conclusion

Navigating the complexities of the PATH Act (Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act) can seem daunting, but it’s crucial to remember that these measures are in place to protect taxpayers. The changes brought about by the Act may mean a slight delay in receiving your refund, but they also mean increased security and accuracy in the tax process.

Tax season may seem a little more complicated with the PATH Act, but it’s manageable and even more secure with an understanding of the process and a little patience. Remember to file early, choose direct deposit for your refund, and regularly check your refund status for updates.

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