Missourians who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) should not count on receiving their tax refund shortly after the holidays to help pay for gifts. IRS spokesman Michael Devine says a change in federal law will delay their tax refund until at least February 15, 2017. He says the law will make it easier for the IRS to detect and prevent refund fraud.

IRS warns Missourians about delay in refund next year if claiming child tax credits

IRS warns Missourians about delay in refund next year if claiming child tax credits

“The returns are being held so that we can do matching of the information on that tax return with the information that’s coming from your employer so that we can make sure that those are not fraudulent tax returns, trying to stop criminals from making up fraudulent returns, maybe even using your information that they’ve stolen and then creating false W-2’s or 1099’s.” say Devine. “This year we’re going to be able to stop a lot more fraud, but it’s going to mean that some people are going to have their refund delayed. People shouldn’t go out spending the money for Christmas presents that they might need because they are going to have to wait until they get their refund.”

According to Devine, the Earned Income Tax Credit has been around since Presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. He says it helps lower-families move up the economic ladder. It can be worth more than $6,000, depending on your income and the number of children you can claim on your return. The Additional Tax Credit is for families who also have children but may not be able to get all of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

As of June, about 500,000 Missourians received $1.2 billion in the EITC alone, putting an average of $2,459 into the pockets of low-income working individuals. Similarly, 332,100 Missourians received a total of $438.97 million in the ACTC, an average of $1,322 per individual.

The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, some returns however, are held for further review. Devine suggests filing taxes electronically.

“If you file electronically, you’re going to know within 24 hours that we’ve accepted your return,” says Devine. “That’s critical because if a criminal has stolen your identity and filed a return using your information, you’re going to know immediately that you’ve got a problem.”

Devine says those who don’t claim the EITC and ACTC credits should not expect a delay in their tax returns next year.