Block has already rolled out its TV commercials
promoting a chance for 1,000 people a day to win $1,000.
It’s not Powerball. But it is another push to get us
rolling into tax season. H&R Block is seeing
customers already, preparing 1040s and is just waiting
to hit the send button once the IRS begins accepting
returns on Tuesday.
open and doing returns right now," said H&R
Block CEO Bill Cobb in a phone interview Thursday.
"The refund has become the major financial event of
the year for many people."
than 70 percent of tax filers nationwide are expected to
receive federal income tax refunds this year. Last year,
the Internal Revenue Service issued 109 million refunds.
The average refund: $2,797.
IRS said Thursday that more than 150 million tax returns
are expected to be filed this year. Most people will
have until April 18 — a few days after the typical
deadline of April 15 — to file their 2015 tax returns
and pay any tax due because of Emancipation Day falling
on April 15. Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts have
until April 19 because of Patriot’s Day observances on
tax season already has its share of grumbling. Consumers
remain worried about identity theft. The IRS says its
phone lines will have more staffing but will still be so
busy that people should go to www.irs.gov first to try
to get answers.
who need a copy of a tax return for a specific tax year
will face added hurdles this season when it comes to
getting information via the IRS Get Transcript program.
Commissioner John Koskinen said tax filers are asked to
plan ahead if they need an old tax return via Get
Transcript. A filer could still request a return for a
previous tax year online at www.irs.gov via the Get
thanks to some serious ID fraud relating to Get
Transcript last year, legitimate taxpayers will face
more roadblocks, too.
year, you won’t be able to quickly print out that old
return after viewing it online. Instead, the earlier
return will be mailed to the address that the IRS has on
record. And it could take five to 10 calendar days to
receive that old return, Koskinen said.
some point, tax filers will once again be able to view
that previous return online and print it out. But that
service won’t be available until new safeguards are
tested out, he said.
here’s another warning about scam artists: The IRS
states that the IRS never sends emails requesting that
you obtain or access your transcripts.
change is a result of some previous activity by
fraudsters. Last June, Koskinen reported that between
mid-February and mid-May 2015 criminals successfully
gained access to 100,000 Get Transcript accounts. Crooks
had tried to access roughly another 100,000 accounts.
preparers and the IRS are working more diligently
together this season to stop fraud early in the season
right when it starts.
going to share that information when we see suspicious
returns," said H&R Block’s Cobb. "We’re
being very vigilant on suspicious returns."
IRS said many new safeguards are in place but will be
invisible to the taxpayer. The idea is to better
authenticate the taxpayer’s identity.
visible change: Taxpayers who use private-sector tax
software accounts will see new password protections. New
standards require a minimum 8-digit password using a
combination of letters, numbers and special characters.
Also there will be new security questions, new lock-out
features and new ways to verify emails.
than four out of five returns are expected to be filed
electronically. But again, the online filing system can
be used by scam artists who steal important Social
Security data and other numbers from legitimate
fake IRS phone calls, of course, will continue this tax
season. So consumers are warned to watch out and not
fall for fraudsters trying to collect money in the name
of the IRS.
the line there are some concerns brewing that the scam
artists who bother us with all those IRS-impostor phone
calls could end up getting a little help from Congress
at some point now that private debt collectors will be
allowed to go after people who really haven’t paid
their federal income taxes yet.
highway funding deal reached in Washington in December
included a tax collection provision that would allow the
IRS to turn to private debt collectors and make
robocalls, if necessary.
said Thursday that the IRS will be working to design a
program that will enable private debt collectors to
collect old tax debts and such a program would be in
place later this year.
said the IRS is reviewing possibly making sure that
taxpayers first receive a letter from the IRS saying the
debt will be handed over to a private collection firm.
The debt collectors might then send a letter in advance
of making any phone calls, Koskinen said.
IRS wants to maintain a strategy to let tax filers know
that if they’re surprised to be hearing from the IRS,
they likely aren’t hearing from the IRS.