Federal refunds delayed to February 15 for taxpayers claiming certain tax credits

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The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned tax professionals of the continuing threat from cybercriminals and launched a series of security tips to encouraging stronger measures to protect taxpayer data.

The agency plans to implement new security features for the 2017 filing season in an effort to prevent identity theft and tax-refund fraud.

In a congressionally-approved change aimed at battling tax refund fraud and identity theft, the IRS must hold tax refunds until February 15 for the millions of Americans who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit.

As of June 2016, 378000 working individuals and families in MS received $1.1 billion in EITC alone, putting an average of $2,917 into the pockets of low-income working individuals and families. The IRS emphasizes that these are full-year totals for both of these credits and that only those claims filed before February 15 will be affected by the new law.

"We want people to be aware of the change for their planning purposes during the holidays", IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said.

As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns once the filing season begins.

Anyone who doesn't claim the earned income or the additional child tax credit should get their refund within 21 days of their return being accepted by the IRS.

Taxpayers are being reminded that the easiest way for an identity thief to steal taxpayer information is by asking for it. People fall victim to phishing scams through emails, texts, or phone and mistakenly turn over important personal data, the IRS said.

The IRS also encourages taxpayers to consider a tax-withholding checkup.

The Earned Income Tax Credit benefits taxpayers with low to moderate incomes. The Summit group, a partnership between the public and private sectors, urged the tax community to take steps now to protect information before the 2017 filing season.