Big Changes Burden Taxpayers

New Report Analyzes Delays and Challenges Faced by Taxpayers This Tax Season

(WASHINGTON) As the tax season enters its final push, advocates from the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) and Consumer Federation of America (CFA) issued their annual report on tax-time consumer issues Big Changes Burden Taxpayers: New Law Delays Refunds and Drives Demand for Loans; Immigrant Taxpayers Face Challenges.

New information detailed in the report since the two advocacy organizations released their Consumer Advisory in late January, 2017 include:

  • Refund delays for millions of vulnerable taxpayers. Refunds for recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) were delayed until late February, resulting in dramatic growth for a new generation of refund anticipation loans (RALs).Based on estimates from H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, and Liberty Tax, at least 1.5 million  of these loans were made this tax season. Currently, taxpayers are not charged interest or a fee for these loans, but they are not entirely risk-free and in future years, lenders could impose a charge.
  • Immigrant taxpayers face challenges. Millions of taxpayers with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) were required to get the numbers renewed, also potentially delaying processing of tax refunds.  Applications for renewals may have been hampered by the general atmosphere of fear resulting from aggressive targeting of undocumented immigrants by federal immigration authorities. Undocumented immigrants may generally be afraid to file tax returns this year, according to the Washington Post.
  • Fraud and errors from unregulated preparers. The majority of paid tax preparers are not required to meet any minimum educational, competency, or training standards. Consumers are at risk from preparers who make errors or commit fraud.  A new national poll commissioned by the Consumer Federation of America found that more than two-thirds of consumers believe that tax preparers are already licensed, while only 20 percent  realize they are not.

The full report is available at: http://bit.ly/2o1VkNP

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Since 1969, the nonprofit National Consumer Law Center® (NCLC®) has worked for consumer justice and economic security for low-income and other disadvantaged people, including older adults, in the U.S. through its expertise in policy analysis and advocacy, publications, litigation, expert witness services, and training. www.nclc.org

The Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 250 nonprofit consumer groups that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy and education. http://www.consumerfed.org

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