LAURINBURG — Some Scotland County tax filers may see a refund delay on their federal tax returns.
Those who do see a delay can thank the IRS and identity thieves.
Low-income residents here and across the United States who rely on the annual tax refund to help pay bills are going to have to wait a few weeks longer to get checks this year as the federal agency cracks down on fraudsters.
A new law — Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act (PATH) took effect on Jan. 1 to fight tax ID fraud. The IRS will use the extra time to screen the returns. Scammers and organized crime syndicates have been filing fraudulent returns and claiming taxpayers refunds before they have a chance to file, according to the IRS.
The new law mandates that the IRS not issue a refund to those claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit on a tax return until Feb. 15.
The IRS said direct deposit e-filers usually receive their funds within 21 days. So those filing on Jan 23 — the first day for filing — might see their refunds around mid-February. But the additional processing time will delay those refunds until the end of February.
The delays impact 40 million working poor families claiming the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit.
It is unclear how many people in Scotland County will be affected, but there are at least 9,451 people who receive Medicaid benefits, according to Scotland County Department of Social Services. Of those Medicaid recipients in Scotland County, about 6,500 are children, according to DSS.
For 2016, the maximum earned income tax credit is from $506 for no qualifying children to $6,269 for three or more qualifying children.
“For most of these people it’s the biggest check they are going to get all year,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the Associated Press. “We are sensitive to that.”
The change will not delay state refunds.