While the Internal Revenue Service expects no delays during this tax season, there still could be potential delays for some taxpayers due to a new law. The reason for the enforced delay? Fraud prevention.
Nearly 30 million tax return refunds will be affected by the PATH (Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes) Act. Those that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit will likely start seeing refunds soon. The IRS also says that because of financial institution processes, weekends, and holidays, it will probably be this week that taxpayers could start seeing refunds coming in.
Fraud has beset the IRS in recent years as identity thieves have used stolen taxpayer information to make off with multiplied billions. For example, tax fraud in 2016 was estimated to reach $21 billion.
Don’t fall for fraud.
The IRS will never send e-mails or call taxpayers asking for verification of the Social Security numbers or any other taxpayer data. Taxpayers who receive such requests should report it to the IRS immediately (information on how to do this is found at the end of this article).
Regardless of whether you claim the tax credits or not, filing as early as possible cuts down on the time a criminal has to file a fake return using your name. Untangling the knot of who’s the real taxpayer can be a laborious and unpleasant task. So, if you can, file early as a precaution.
An IRS online service, Where’s My Refund, enables taxpayers to see how the system is progressing. Taxpayers can track their refunds online or on the IRS2Go mobile phone app. The principal consideration for taxpayers: prepare early so you can file at the first possible moment: early filer gets their refund, first.
If you are a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission recommends these steps:
- File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
- Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit records:
- Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 1-800-766-0008
- Experian, www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 1-800-680-7289
Contact your financial institutions, and close any financial or credit accounts opened without your permission or tampered with by identity thieves.
If your SSN is compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS recommends these additional steps:
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice; call the number provided or, if instructed, go to www.IDVerify.irs.gov.
- Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if your efiled return rejects because of a duplicate filing under your SSN or you are instructed to do so. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then attach the form to your return and mail according to instructions.
- Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.
More on Tax Fraud:
- Six ways your tax preparer can try to save you from nine miserable months
- Another IRS scam targets over 350,000
- Jimmy Rodefer: Tax fraud identity theft continues as a growth industry