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What's New for Tax Season 2017

For American taxpayers, the new year brings some new rules for filing tax returns. For those who desire a smooth, efficient tax season, organizing bank statements, pay stubs and receipts is half the battle – the other half is knowing about the changes in 2017.

Delayed Refunds
Generally, the earlier you file your tax returns, the sooner you’ll get your refund. This year, however, filers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) will not get a refund before mid-February – no matter how early they file. A new law, Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (the PATH Act), requires the IRS to hold the entire refund until at least Feb. 15. The PATH Act is intended to give the IRS more time to detect and prevent fraud by people who illegally claim these credits.

Check Where's My Refund on or the IRS mobile app, IRS2Go, after February 15 for your personalized refund status.

New Taxpayer ID Numbers
Another change involves Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs), which are used by people who have tax obligations, but are not eligible for a Social Security number. Any ITIN not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years officially expired on Jan. 1, 2017. Additionally, any ITIN with middle digits of either 78 or 79 (9NN-78-NNNN or 9NN-79-NNNN) also expired on January1.

Anyone with an expired ITIN should file a renewal application as soon as possible. Failure to renew early could result in refund delays and denial of some tax benefits until the ITIN is renewed. 

Taxpayer Protection
The IRS recently upgraded its identity verification process for certain online self-help tools in order to prevent identity theft. Because the Secure Access platform is now more rigorous, the IRS recommends users prepare to register in advance.

Adjusted Gross Income
Some taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need to know their 2015 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) to validate and file a 2016 tax return. If you have a copy of your 2015 federal income tax return, your AGI is on line 37 of Form 1040, line 21 of the Form 1040-A or line 4 on the Form 1040-EZ.x.

IRS Help Center Hours
In many communities, the IRS provides in-person help at Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs). But this year, all TACs will operate by appointment only. If you can’t find the answers to your tax questions on the IRS website, be sure to check to see your nearest TAC’s operating days, business hours and services provided.

New Date
One change that may be welcomed by some is that, in 2017, we all have a few extra days to file tax returns. The deadline is traditionally April 15 but, this year, that date falls on a Saturday. Emancipation Day, a holiday in Washington, D.C., will be observed on Monday, April 17. So that pushes the 2017 deadline to Tuesday, April 18.

Even with a few more days in the tax season, don’t wait until the last minute. Your return will be competing with more than 153 million other individual returns the IRS expects to be filed this year. While the paperwork may seem complex and intimidating, knowing the rules –and how they affect you- can make the whole process more bearable.