The IRS opens its tax filing season with a warning about delays and extra fact-checking. The IRS says, with certainty, that millions of people will be getting their refunds later than usual. It's to prevent mistakes and fraud.
Back in 2013, Donald Nuse and Uncle Sam weren't on good terms.
"I had a lot of bills at the time," says Nuse.
Income taxes were due. Nuse had recently divorced his wife.
"She took pretty much everything. So it was just me and my kids," says Nuse.
"It was just me and my kids."
...Because when it came time to claim his children as dependents and get some extra financial help from the government...
"It got denied," says Nuse.
Nuse says he was eligible for about $6,000 because of his children and the earned income tax credit. But he says his ex-wife played finders keepers with the IRS.
"They had already paid it out to her, even though I had had my kids the entire year," says Nuse.
"Every year, so many taxpayers come in to file their return, to find out their children have already been claimed by somebody else," says Elizabeth Crane, a tax accountant.
Bloomberg News reports some 24% of earned income tax credits in 2015 were erroneous, causing $15.6 billion in improper payments. Seems the IRS is fed-up with this, because the government agency will be taking more time to fact-check these claimed credits. Take, for example, an IRS worker looking over tax papers of a divorced parent with children.
"The divorce paperwork, or custody paperwork, might entitle one parent to claim them this year and the other parent to claim them the other year," says Crane.
File your taxes now with the earned income tax credit or the separate additional child credit, and you won't see a refund until at least February 15th. That's compared to the usual 10 to 14 days for a refund.
Nuse's current girlfriend knows this delay will probably make a difficult budget even tighter.
"We're actually trying to buy a home soon, So it's even more crucial," says Mikayla Burrow.
Nuse and his girlfriend are still happy the IRS is doing more checking. When it comes to this delay, Nuse says there probably would've been, and still could be, another delay.
"I know when I called the IRS last year, their computers had crashed because they had so many people filing at once," says Nuse.
Another big change this year: It'll be important to find your old tax return if you are using a different tax software. In the past, taxpayers could enter their electronic filing pin to confirm their identities. But E-PINS will no longer be an option. People will either need to enter their adjusted gross income, or if that isn't available, see a tax accountant in person for help.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas