Tax law changes could mean delayed refunds

HOUSTON If you owe the IRS money, you still have to file by April 15, but taxpayers who get refunds will have to wait a little longer to get their money.

Hubert Farrow likes to file his taxes early because he usually gets a refund. But this year, he will have to wait because of changes in tax law that took place in mid-December.

"We did not even know about the changes, so I don't even know how to react right now," said Farrow.

Not many taxpayers do know about the delay. The IRS says it has to reprogram its processing systems for three provisions that were extended in the tax relief, unemployment insurance reauthorization and job creation act of 2010.

For early filers, the IRS says do not mail in returns or even file electronically until at least the middle of February.

"It would be good to have, but knowing this, you have to rethink about when you are going to get it," Farrow said.

The IRS says the delay will impact taxpayers who itemize deductions like mortgage interest, charitable donations or state sales tax. Tax experts say that includes a lot of people.

"Most of my practice consists of people who itemize their deductions and so they are going to be subject to this delay," said Bob Martin, CPA.

Martin is a Houston CPA who says the delay in filing for refunds may cause problems for accountants too.

"What will happen is that people know they are not going to get their refund right away, so they may procrastinate getting their information to their accountant," Martin said.

There's also another snag for those who use H&R Block for rapid refunds. The bank that backed H&R Block's instant refund anticipation loans has been ordered to stop by the FDIC. H&R Block told us it will offer refund anticipation checks, but they take eight to 15 days to deliver to taxpayers.

If you owe money, you can still wait until April 15 to pay. But if you like to get your refund to pay off all that dDcember spending, you will be forced to wait before you file.

To shorten the wait, you can go ahead and fill out the forms and get everything ready to file your tax return, but again, you cannot send it in until at least the middle of February.

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