Tax Season: Expect Delays for EITC, Other Refunds

It’s just about time to give Uncle Sam his share, and some changes this year could affect when those who often rely on tax refunds will get their money back.

The IRS will begin accepting 2016 income tax returns on Jan. 23, but because of new anti-fraud measures, taxpayers filing early and claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit and/or the Additional Child Tax Credit won’t likely see their refunds until late February.

Ross Yednock, program director of the Michigan Economic Impact Coalition at the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, says many people in Michigan rely heavily on getting that refund.

“Folks will kind of plan their year out knowing, ‘I will be getting a good chunk of change, I can take care of this auto payment, pay my property taxes, get caught up on rent,’ what have you,” he points out. “And if they’ve planned this way and done this way the last few years, this year’s going to be different.”

The IRS says it will hold all refunds until at least Feb. 15. However, given the Presidents Day holiday on the Feb. 20, Yednock says it could be closer to the end of the month before refunds are received.

The IRS does have a Where’s My Refund? tool on its website, that filers can check after Feb. 15 for the status of their refunds.

Yednock stresses that planning for the delay can help avoid a financial crunch – or the rash decision to visit a high-cost payday lender. And he cautions there simply is no legal way around this delay.

“If folks go to anybody and they say, ‘We’ll get it for you sooner,’ that’s a red flag,” he stresses. “It doesn’t matter whether you do your taxes yourself, whether you go to a paid preparer, or whether you go to one of the hundreds of free tax sites that are across Michigan.”

Yednock adds that having all the documents and statements necessary in order to verify income and eligible deductions is the best way to expedite the process, and that free, certified tax help is available throughout the state.

More information is at MichiganFreeTaxHelp.org or by calling 211.