Start of tax season means refunds and reform confront taxpayers
Nearly half of American taxpayers are somewhat or very dependent on receiving a tax refund from the IRS. The survey of 3,000 Americans and commissioned by H&R Block also found that if a tax refund was delayed, the biggest concern for one in four respondents would be not having enough money to meet required financial commitments like rent and bills.
The IRS is required to hold refunds for returns claiming the earned income tax credit (EITC) and additional child tax credit (ACTC) until mid-February. Approximately 30 million taxpayers claim the EITC or ACTC, with half filing early, which means as many as 15 million taxpayers could have their refunds delayed until mid-February. While the IRS will begin issuing refunds with these forms starting mid-February, federal refunds won’t appear in taxpayers’ bank accounts until February 27.
For a quarter of respondents, a delayed tax refund would mean putting off paying debts. Another one in four would worry about not having enough money to meet their obligations, like rent or bills. The tax refund is very important. Averaging more than $2,700, the tax refund is often the largest financial transaction many taxpayers will have all year.
For taxpayers who want access to money faster than the IRS can provide a tax refund, H&R Block is now offering the Refund Advance, where taxpayers could get an advance on their refund of up to $3,000 after filing their taxes. It’s a no interest loan from BofI Federal Bank and the loan is repaid from their tax refund once received.
Tax reform law is like a life event
This tax legislation is like a life event. It’s not just a tax rate change, a bigger child tax credit or larger standard deduction. It’s going to change the way taxpayers think about and plan their income taxes. Taxpayers will need to take a fresh look at their individual situation to know their outcome and new strategies to use to get the best tax outcome.
For the most part, the new tax law will not affect the 2017 tax returns taxpayers are going to file in the next few months. The new law went into effect for 2018, which will affect the income tax return taxpayers file in 2019. However, taxpayers can expect changes to their paychecks in the next few weeks that reflect the new tax rates and rules.
Updating a W-4 with an employer is the best way to prepare for this legislation’s impact. If a taxpayer expects their taxes to go down because of this legislation, do they want that money in their paycheck throughout the year or do they want a big refund when they file their taxes? Updating a W-4 will help taxpayers get the outcome they want.
Whether a taxpayer prepares their own taxes or gets assistance, this is the perfect time to talk with a tax professional to get help understanding how a taxpayer’s specific situation may be affected by the new legislation and any adjustments they may need to make to get the best tax outcome in the future.
The results of H&R Block’s W-4 survey show consumers not only haven’t updated their withholding after tax reform, but many don’t even know how.