Is My Refund Delayed? What Can I Do?

If you rely on your refund, plan for delays
If you rely on your refund, plan for delays

“Will my refund be delayed this year” is becoming an all too common refrain these days. Delayed e-filing dates, IRS not accepting tax forms & documents not being mailed out on time have all occurred over the last few years and have caused refund delays. However for the 2017 tax filing season (2016 tax year), it looks like we will get hit with all three of these scenarios at once:

Electronic Filing Date Delayed

This tax year, E-filing will begin January 23rd, 2017.  Electronic filing has historically began around January 15th.  However, over the past few years, these dates have been pushed back from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, so this is becoming common practice by the IRS.  Returns may be filed before this date, however the IRS will not process them until 1/23/17.

IRS Delaying Processing of Popular Tax Credits

The IRS has announced that the following tax credit forms will not be accepted for processing until February 15th, 2017:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC)
  • The American Opportunity Credit (AOTC).

This is a nationwide law change required by Congress in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act; this is not a company or state change. If you normally file your taxes around this time (2/15/17), this delay should have a minimal impact on you.  However, if you tend to file early and/or have plans for your tax refund in advance, R&G Brenner suggests that you prepare yourself accordingly.  If you are unable to save funds, don’t worry, you can apply for R&G Brenner’s refund advances & referral rewards for CASH! (below).

R&G Brenner Refund Advances

If you rely on your refund, and these delays will seriously affect you, don’t worry; R&G Brenner has multiple refund advances for qualified R&G Brenner clients:

R&G Brenner Referral Rewards

Taxes may never be fun, but they are rewarding with R&G Brenner on your team.  Last year we paid out over $100,000 in CASH for client referrals.  Get $50 CASH for every new client you refer to R&G Brenner; NO LIMIT!  Click here to start earning today!

While we can’t control IRS delays, we can offer our clients a little relief from these delays.  Become an R&G Brenner client and receive the benefits.  Schedule an appointment today for a FREE estimate or call us toll free at (888) APRIL-15.

 

IRS Computer Problems Shut Down Electronic Filing Of Tax Returns

Computer problems have caused the IRS to cease accepting electronically filed tax returns until further notice:

The outage could affect refunds, but the agency said it doesn’t anticipate “major disruptions.”…”The IRS is still assessing the scope of the outage,” the agency said. “At this time, the IRS does not anticipate major refund disruptions; we continue to expect that nine out of 10 taxpayers will receive their refunds within 21 days.”

Source: USA Today

Contractor Hired To Process NY State Tax Returns Made Mistakes & Cost Millions

A recent review of New York State Industries For The Disabled–the contractor hired by New York State to process mail-in tax returns–revealed a tremendous amount of mistakes and excessive overtime that cost taxpayers Millions of dollars:

The review found that the contractor introduced errors into an estimated 22 percent of the more than 2 million paper returns it handled in 2013. In addition, the audit found the contractor was slow to process more than 1.8 million returns — or more than 90 percent of the total. 

The state’s Department of Tax and Finance racked up $6 million in overtime to correct the problems and delays. 

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, whose office conducted the audit, said tax officials should have done more to oversee its contractor. He’s recommending that the state reduce its payments to the contractor, and notes that the tax department has already taken steps to prevent similar problems this year.

Source: Newsday

Government Shutdown Delays Tax Filing Season

 

Filing Season Delayed...AGAIN!
Filing Season Delayed…AGAIN!

Like last year, the IRS is delaying the start of tax season.  Unlike last year, the reason for the delay is the government shutdown:

Tax filing season will start one to two weeks late because of the 16-day government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday. The IRS says it needs the extra time to program and test tax processing systems. “The government closure came during the peak period for preparing IRS systems for the 2014 filing season,” the IRS said in a release. “Programming, testing and deployment of more than 50 IRS systems is needed to handle processing of nearly 150 million tax returns.”

The government shutdown seems like an awfully convenient excuse to delay the start of the tax season. Since the explosion of identity theft over the last few years, the IRS and multiple studies have concluded that the majority of fraud like identity theft occurs at the beginning of the tax season. Therefore, by delaying the start of the tax season, the theory is that with less days to file, the less fraudulent returns the IRS will receive.  Therefore the early filers–which are usually low income taxpayers who really need their tax refunds just to live–are going to be most negatively affected by this delay.  The little guy gets the shaft once again. Oh, and by the way, tax season may be delayed by a couple of weeks, but your taxes are still due on April 15th.  Are we really surprised?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Source: USA Today

Government Shutdown Closes IRS Centers

IRS Offices Closed, But You Still Need To Pay!
IRS Offices Closed, But You Still Need To Pay!

With the failure of congress to pass a budget, 800,000 thousand workers face furloughs and a million more are working without pay.   The IRS is one of the agencies that will be closed with walk-in IRS centers shuttered and IRS Call centers closed:

The good news first: no audits! The Internal Revenue Service is suspending all audit activities while the federal government is shut down.

And that’s pretty much it for good news.

Here’s the bad news: if you’re on extension, your 2012 federal income tax return is still due on October 15, 2013. And yes, the IRS will cash your check on time.

But the door doesn’t swing both ways. If you are due a refund, it will likely be delayed (the extent of the delay is largely dependent on the length of the shutdown).

Walk-in assistance centers for taxpayers will be closed. Similarly, the IRS will not pick up the phones: all telephone hotlines would be closed.

Hopefully the budget dispute will be resolved quickly, but we are entering unknown territory as this shutdown is very different from past shutdowns, mainly because zero appropriations bills have been passed in the interim.  In other words, Republicans & Democrats can not even agree to pass the things they agree on; like paying our military service members.  This will almost certainly extend the shutdown and the pain of taxpayers trying to process their tax returns and receive their refunds.  Judging from taxpayer comments here, the IRS has not been very much help in expediting refunds or explaining delays before the shutdown.  But even paltry service is  better than no service at all….isn’t it?

Source: Forbes

NY State Still Dealing With Refund Delays

NY State Is Backlogged
NY State Is Backlogged

“Where’s my refund”! Is a common cry from NY State residents these days, and according to the state for good reason.  After using Bank Of America to process refunds for the last 18 years, BOA decided to get out of the  tax business all together and did not renew their contract.  So what was Albany to do?  Outsource the job of course!  These subcontractors and not-for-profit groups  are backlogged with refund requests which is what is causing the delay for so many New Yorkers.

It has been nearly 3 months since the end of the tax season and all refunds should have been processed by now.  Luckily, some NY taxpayers may be entitled to receive interest:

By law, interest is paid on refunds that are issued after May 30 for timely filed returns. Interest is paid only on that part of the refund resulting from over-withholding. To prioritize delivery of the delayed paper refunds, the tax department is assisting the contractor in both speeding up the processing and providing quality assurance. Recovery of the department’s costs associated with this effort—including staff overtime and interest payments—is provided for in the contract, and will not come at additional taxpayer expense, the tax department noted.

“In New York State, you’re required to pay interest 45 days after the filing due date of April 15, so beginning May 31 we’re paying interest on refunds,” said [NY State Department of Finance spokesmen Geoff] Gloak. “The interest goes back to April 15, so interest payments over time are provided for in the contract and won’t come at taxpayer expense.”

The majority of these delays are for taxpayers that filed a paper tax return as opposed to those who filed electronically, but there are still taxpayers out there that did file electronically waiting on their refunds.  No surprisingly, residents are mad including Fred Slater; CPA at the NYC firm MS1040 LLC; particularly that private taxpayer data is being handed over to a third party:

“I have all kinds of questions about how much information they were given to process [tax returns]. In other words, you’re giving your private information to a third party. What were they given? The state is doing everything in its power to push people to efile, and they repeatedly contradict themselves on this, and force things. Not all of the returns are efile-able to start with, by their own system restrictions, and then they go through this process of pushing you to efile, but their system is not up to snuff.”

If you need to get in touch with NY State regarding your tax refund click here.  If you require assistance with your NY State Tax Return, please contact an R&G Brenner professional today.

Source: Accounting Today

IRS Experiencing System Errors

IRS1The IRS’ new “Modernized E-File Production (MeP) & Assurance Testing Systems” have been experiencing retrieval errors this past week.  The IRS issued the following statement on their website:

ETIN Retrieval Errors (Posted 2:00 pm, Eastern on 4/12/2013)

The Modernized e-File Production and Assurance Testing Systems are experiencing an issue with ETIN Retrieval errors that started around 12:00 noon Eastern Time. The IRS is working to resolve the problem as a top priority. Please refrain from accessing the MeF Production and ATS systems to transmit submissions, get acknowledgements, retrieve state submissions, send state acknowledgements or submit any other service requests until further notice.

The IRS will issue a Technical QuickAlert when the MeF system is operational.

We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your cooperation.

This means that no tax return can be electronically filed during this time.  This is at least the second time this week that the MeF systems have been down for an extended period of time.  With all the problems related to the delay of this tax season & tax forms/credits due to the fiscal cliff, continued MeF outages is the last thing the IRS (and taxpayers) need with only 3 days left to the tax deadline.

UPDATE:

The IRS has issued the following alert that the MeF system is now operational and accepting all tax returns.

MeF Alerts:

Update – Resolution of ETIN Retrieval Errors (Posted 12:00am, Eastern, 4/13/2013)

The IRS successfully resolved the issue causing the ETIN Retrieval errors impacting the Modernized e-File Production and Assurance Testing Systems.
Please resume transmitting submissions, transmitting other service requests, and retrieving acknowledgements.

We thank you for your patience and support.

The status of the IRS’ MeF system can be checked by clicking here.

H&R Block Files Client’s Tax Returns Early Delaying Refunds

Certain H&R Block Client's Refunds Are Delayed
Certain H&R Block Client’s Refunds Are Delayed

H&R Block (HRB)–the largest public retail tax preparation company in the United States–has confirmed that they have filed many tax returns containing certain delayed credits too early, causing their clients refunds to be delayed.  The primary issue is the Education Tax Credit which was not accepted for electronic filing until recently (February 22nd).  This has prompted the IRS to send letters to HRB clients instead of their expected refunds.  HRB has released the following statement:

“H&R Block has confirmed with the IRS that there was an issue with certain tax returns filed before February 22, 2013 that included certain education tax credits claimed on Form 8863.  We have worked with the IRS to expedite a solution to this issue for all of our affected clients.”

If you are a current HRB client, and have received notification from the IRS concerning the early filing of your tax return–or you think you may be affected–it is advised that you contact your local HRB office, or contact their executive headquarters by calling 1-800-HRBLOCK.

Source: ABC

Software Glitches Still Causing IRS Refund Delays

IRS Delaying Refunds

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s new software system for handling electronic tax returns has experienced problems during the tax filing season, angering some taxpayers whose refunds have been delayed.

In an issue that could draw congressional scrutiny, the IRS said it was addressing the software glitches and that delays in sending refunds to taxpayers would be minimal.

The tax collection agency has made a big commitment to upgrading its software and has been expecting to shut down its old software system in October.

“A final decision on that won’t be made until after the filing season and after we have a chance to have additional conversations with” tax return preparers, said IRS spokesman Frank Keith.

The IRS said delays in sending out refunds began in February. “There were probably several million taxpayers whose returns we took longer to process,” Keith said.

But the IRS has largely caught up and the number of refunds sent out is now on a par with last year, he said.

Some tax preparers said they are facing angry customers upset by the late refunds.

The IRS had projected that taxpayers who got their 2012 electronic returns in by April 15 would get direct-deposit refunds seven to 13 days later; or 17 days for mailed refunds.

That projection was expected to improve on the previous year, when direct deposit refunds went out 8 to 15 days after e-files came in; and 22 days for refund checks sent in the mail.

Keith said most “taxpayers this year did receive and will continue to receive their refunds within that period of time” that the agency had projected.

Some tax preparers said that outlook was too optimistic.

Gina Jones, a tax preparer in Delhi, Louisiana, said 85 percent of the 220 e-file returns she has filed this year have had delayed refunds. These delays are often seven to 10 days beyond the IRS projected window for a refund, she said.

“IRS this year promoted big time their new modernized e-file,” Jones said. “Right out of the starting gate, they got behind.”

Mark Staber, chief tax officer with Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, said: “The delays – and IRS not being as communicative as perhaps they could have been – have left many consumers frustrated and confused over the timing of their refunds.

The IRS has encouraged tax preparers to send in electronic returns through older software systems.

“While there were delays at the start of the season, the IRS allowed suppliers to return to the former technology platform at that time, which is appreciated,” said H&R Block spokesman Gene King.

IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman has made e-file a top priority for the agency. The IRS tax return system upgrade is estimated to cost $1.3 billion through 2024, the Government Accountability Office said.

In 2012, tax preparers who file 11 or more returns are required to send them in electronically, known as e-filing. For 2011, preparers with 100 or more returns must e-file.

This year’s problems could draw scrutiny from Congress.

The House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the IRS, “is aware of issues that have arisen that are related to e-filing,” said Michelle Dimarob, a spokesperson for committee chairman Republican David Camp.

“We anticipate that members will look at this issue, and others, when the commissioner appears before Ways and Means to discuss the overall filing season,” she said.

Source: Reuters