Late law changes

Tax season begins after 8-day delay

Cox NewspapersJanuary 30, 2013 

— Taxpayers filing basic 1040 returns can hit the send button to the Internal Revenue Service beginning Wednesday.

The IRS pushed the start date back by eight days from the original 2013 date to accommodate late tax law changes enacted Jan. 2. Last year, more than 80 percent of taxpayers filed electronically, and e-filing began Jan. 17.

Last year was a big year for tax-return fraud, too. And one of the key recommendations to avoid a monthslong delay in recovering a return is to file early in the year.

“Everyone will be trying to file. I have 30 returns ready. Everyone is nervous this year,” said Jarrett Perry, a CPA and partner in Perry & Associates, a suburban West Palm Beach accounting firm. “It’s a delayed tax season for everybody.”

Gary Bloome, CPA and owner of Liberty Tax Service in Boca Raton, Fla., said the location extended its operations to 24 hours a day beginning Monday through Feb. 5 to serve clients who depend on getting a tax refund.

“Because of the filing delays, it really puts a crimp in a lot of people’s style,” Bloome said.

The IRS said it will begin accepting tax returns Wednesday after updating forms and completing programming and testing of its systems. That means that the vast majority of tax filers — more than 120 million households — should be able to start filing returns.

The remaining households with more complex returns, such as taxpayers who itemize, will be able to start filing in late February or into March because of the need for more extensive form and processing system changes the IRS has yet to complete. This group includes people claiming residential energy credits, depreciation or general business credits.

“It will place a burden on small-business owners,” Perry said. They are required to have returns filed by March 15. “We have people dropping off corporate tax returns. We are waiting on the tax software to come up with the forms so we can finish the returns.”

Along with returns from taxpayers eager to obtain refunds as soon as possible, fraudulent returns from scammers are expected to hit the IRS Wednesday.

“The IRS is still expecting, and law enforcement in general is expecting a deluge of fraudulent tax returns being filed this year,” said Latour “L.T.” Lafferty, an attorney who heads the white-collar crime division of Fowler White Boggs, a Florida firm with headquarters in Tampa.

Since last tax season, the IRS has increased the number and quality of identity theft-screening filters that spot fraudulent returns before refunds are issued.

“I think the filters will work, and they will detect some fraudulent tax returns, but not all of them. It could slow down some legitimate tax returns,” Lafferty said.

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