With 2016 almost at an end, taxpayers buckle down again for next year’s tax filing preparations. The IRS has put out statements indicating the start of the next season, which is scheduled to begin on the 23rd of January, 2017. However, they have also stated that tax refunds will be delayed due to the scrutinization of taxpayers with two or more tax credits. Tax refunds are said to be delayed as far as late February for claimants.
IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen had this to say about the tax season of 2017, “For this tax season, it’s more important than ever for taxpayers to plan ahead.” He also stated that “People should make sure they have their year-end tax statements in hand, and we encourage people to file as they normally would, including those claiming the credits affected by the refund delay. Even with these significant changes, IRS employees and the entire tax community will be working hard to make this a smooth filing season for taxpayers.”
Here are a few other statements that the IRS has conveyed to the taxpayers as to what will be new in 2017’s tax season.
1. ‘Earned Income Tax Credit’ and ‘Additional Tax Credit’ Hold
In accordance with a new rule, the IRS is bound to hold tax refund claims on ‘Earned Income Tax Credit’ and ‘Additional Tax Credit’ till the 15th of February. This new rule has been implemented to expose fraudulent activities, which consequently will also delay the refund claim as it gets released and processed by the banks. With that being said, the IRS has also stated that most taxpayers may not get access to their claimed tax refunds no sooner than the 27th of February.
2. April 18 Filing Deadline
The most welcome news for taxpayers in 2017 is that the tax filing deadline has been extended until the 18th of April, 2017 instead of the conventional 15th April date, in lieu of a holiday in Washington DC. The IRS was previously planning to shift the deadline to April 17th, but extended it further by one more day, due to the national capital’s holiday of Emancipation Day.
3. Warnings on Phishing Scams
The IRS has time and again warned taxpayers about the dangers of phone and email phishing scams. They have also stated that they are now working more closely with the entire tax industry and state revenue departments to strengthen their existing data processing systems to better protect valuable and confidential tax data.
They also reminded the public, that the IRS will never call or email them to divulge their personal tax related data. They have again urged taxpayers to not divulge their confidential information through phone calls or emails to anyone.
4. Refunds in 2017
According to the IRS, e-filing and direct deposits for refunds is still the fastest, safest, and the most precise approach to file income tax returns and claim refunds. They have also stated that they will be trying their best to issue nine out of every ten tax refunds within just 21 days, provided that the claims are approved and vetted for.
Just like the previous years, the IRS will start approving and issuing tax claim returns as soon as the tax filing season starts. The ‘Where’s My Refund’ page on irs.gov as well as the IRS2Go mobile app will also be updated to handle the increased volumes of tax return claims for the upcoming tax season.
5. Help for Taxpayers
In 2017 the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly will offer free of cost tax filing and return assistance to all qualifying taxpayers. All you need to do to avail this offer is go to IRS website and search for ‘free tax prep’ to find a suitable VITA or TCE site to help. Alternatively, one can also download the IRS2Go mobile app and find a free tax prep volunteers.
The IRS actually encourages taxpayers to seek the services and expertise of professional tax professionals as they can advise and help taxpayers file property tax returns and refunds in accordance with the latest tax policies and codes. They have also urged taxpayers to save copies of their previous tax returns. The have also reminded that businesses or individuals who have recently changed their tax preparation software to adjust their tax returns for 2015 to be eligible for electronic tax filing in this season. They have also scrubbed the Electronic Filing Pin and have stated that it is no longer a valid option. For more tips for the nest tax filing season, visit this page.
6. Renewal Reminder for Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs)
ITINs or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers are meant to be used by individuals who are obligated to file taxes under the Federal US tax regulations but are otherwise ineligible for a Social Security Number. The IRS has reminded such taxpayers to renew their ITINs if they have not used it to file their taxes at least once in the last three years. Due to recent changes in tax policies, such ITINs will expire on the 1st of January, 2017. Furthermore, ITINs having 78 and 79 (e.g. 9xx-78-xxxx or 9xx-79-xxxx) as the middle digits will also expire on the same date.
The IRS urges taxpayers with such ITINs to file the appropriate renewal applications to avoid refund and processing delays in the upcoming tax season. Failure to comply will lead to not only tax refunds delays but also the denial of certain tax benefits until such ITINs are renewed.