Here’s Why Some Tax Refunds Will Be Late This Year

Find out why your refund may be late this year, and if you are likely to be affected.

The IRS has some bad news for early filers this year: Your tax refund may be delayed by at least two to three weeks.

Taxpayers were not liking the news.

“I don’t think that’s a good thing,” one woman said. “A lot of people rely on those tax refunds!”

New Law Expected to Bring Delays

A new law known as PATH, passed by Congress in 2015, requires the IRS to give extra scrutiny to tax returns claiming the Earned Income Credit as well as the Additional Child Credit (CLICK HERE to learn more about the law).

These are returns are typically filed by lower-income working people who depend on their refunds to pay the bills.

But Frank Thompson doesn’t like the idea of waiting longer for his own money. “You work, and you want to get paid on Friday. You pay your taxes, you want to get your refund the first of the year.”

Why the Longer Wait

This is all an attempt to cut down on tax filing fraud, where scammers would file millions of bogus refunds in recent years, hoping to claim your refund before you do.

Many of those fraudulent filings targeted basic, or EZ returns that claimed the Earned Income Credit. Hence the increased scrutiny.

IRS spokesperson Jennifer Jenkins told us it’s so important to file early these days, in order to prevent a scammer from having time to file under your name.

“You are increasing your chance that with your delayed filing, that they may step in and file using your information,” Jenkins cautioned.

Sure, no one likes waiting a few more weeks for money that is rightfully theirs. But Won Hassan says if it prevents fraud, it will be worth it.

“I don’t like it, but if it gives me more money, I’m willing to wait,” she said.

What You Can Do

Despite the expected delays, the IRS says you should still file as early as possible, to put your return at the head of the line.

This also makes it less likely a scammer will try to file under your name and steal your refund.

One positive outcome: Several major tax prep firms are offering interest-free advances to taxpayers affected by this delay.

Ask about an advance—and make sure there are no major fees or interest attached, so you don’t waste your money.

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