Tax refund delays expected

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-If you can’t wait to get your hands on your tax return this year, you may have to wait a little longer. New regulations that help the IRS cut down on fraud and identity theft mean millions of Americans won’t get their tax returns until at least the end of February.

For many Americans a tax return is almost like a start of the year bonus--maybe some extra cash to stash away or to spend on something nice. But millions of Americans, especially those with lower incomes, depend on that money to pay bills and take care of other necessities. This year, those families will have to wait longer than usual to get that much-needed money.

“The IRS for the last few years has been making some adjustments to try to combat this identity theft issue,” said Scott Geans, president of NGS, a tax and financial planning firm in Plainfield.

For the first time, Americans who file their taxes claiming either an earned income tax credit or an additional child tax credit won’t see a tax return check until after February 27.  Geans says the reason those credits are singled out is simple.

“Those are two of the credits that have the highest propensity of fraud,” said geans.

Tax filings claiming one or both of those credits will have to undergo more scrutiny, looking for signs of identity theft. The resulting delay in getting refund checks sent out will likely impact thousands across central Indiana, in particular those with lower incomes.

“A lot of people are really depending on those funds at certain periods of time during the year, so it has a huge impact on their ability to pay the bills,” said United Way of Central Indiana’s Lauren Rochester. The United Way of Central Indiana helps about 7,500 clients with free tax help every year; clients who count on those refund checks to get by.

“They are looking for their tax refund to supplement some income and so usually they would like to have these extra funds as soon as they become available,” said Rochester.

If you’d like more information on getting free tax assistance from the United Way, just head over to their website.