The IRS began accepting electronic and paper tax returns on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. More than 153 million individual tax returns are expected to be filed in 2017, according to the IRS.
Taxpayers are reminded that a new law (more details, below) requires the IRS to hold refunds claiming the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) until February 15, although due to weekends and the President’s Day holiday, many affected taxpayers may not have access to their refunds until the week of February 27. Taxpayers should file as usual, and tax return preparers should also submit returns as they normally do–including returns claiming EITC and ACTC.
April 18 Filing Deadline
The filing deadline to submit 2016 tax returns is Tuesday, April 18, 2017, rather than the traditional April 15 date. In 2017, April 15 falls on a Saturday, and this would usually move the filing deadline to the following Monday (April 17). However, Emancipation Day, which is a legal holiday in the District of Columbia, will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the nation’s filing deadline to Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline across the nation.
The IRS also has been working with the tax industry and state revenue departments as part of the Security Summit, a joint initiative between the IRS and representatives of the software industry, tax preparation firms, accountants, payroll and tax financial product processors and state tax administrators to combat identity theft refund fraud and protect the nation’s taxpayers. A number of new provisions are being added in 2017 to expand progress made during the past year.
Refunds in 2017
The IRS anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, but there are some important factors to keep in mind for taxpayers.
Beginning in 2017, a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit until mid-February. Under the change required by Congress in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS must hold the entire refund (even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC) until at least February 15. This change helps ensure that taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the IRS more time to help detect and prevent fraud.
The IRS will begin releasing EITC and ACTC refunds starting February 15. However, the IRS cautions taxpayers that these refunds likely won’t arrive in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of February 27 (assuming there are no processing issues with the tax return and the taxpayer chose direct deposit). This additional period is due to several factors, including banking and financial systems needing time to process deposits.
After refunds leave the IRS, it takes additional time for them to be processed and for financial institutions to accept and deposit the refunds to bank accounts and products. Many financial institutions do not process payments on weekends or holidays, which can affect when refunds reach taxpayers. For EITC and ACTC filers, the three-day holiday weekend involving President’s Day may affect their refund timing.