Tax filers get extra few days

Erin Arvedlund
Philadelphia Inquirer

The IRS will begin accepting 2016 tax returns on Jan. 23, and this year’s deadline is April 18 — not 15 — because the deadline arrives on a weekend, and is followed by the Emancipation Day holiday in Washington.

Expect delays in your 2017 refund — due to holidays for Presidents’ Day on Feb. 20 and processing times for the federal government and banks. The IRS, for instance, instituted some anti-fraud measures that may delay millions of refunds until Feb. 27, more than a month after tax-filing season opens, the agency said.

If you’re checking for an estimated refund date, you can use the agency’s online “Where’s My Refund?” tool — at — anytime after Feb. 15.

Anyone who claims the earned income tax credit or the additional child tax credit will likely have their refund held until at least Feb. 15.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said that taxpayers who file electronically with their own tax software need to have last year’s return handy.

“If you’re changing tax-software products this filing season, make sure you have a copy of your prior-year return on hand,” he said. “You may be asked to enter your 2015 adjusted gross income. This helps verify your identity before you e-file.”

The IRS paid refunds on 73 percent of last year’s 153 million returns, with refunds averaging $2,857, Koskinen said, and expects similar numbers this year.

Taxpayers who can’t find an answer on can call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Taxpayers who can’t resolve their issue online or by phone can schedule an appointment at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.

Use the “contact your local office” tool on to find the closest office or call 844-545-5640.

There’s also Free File, free tax-preparation software available to those earning less than $64,000 annually. After Friday, you can download the free software at or The downloadable versions of Free File Fillable Forms will be available Jan. 23.

The Free File Alliance is a nonprofit coalition of industry-leading tax-software companies partnered with the IRS to provide free electronic tax services. More than 46 million returns have been filed since the program began in 2003.

Safeguard your status

Be on alert for scammers looking for your refund!

Remember, the IRS will never:

■ Call to demand immediate payment, especially asking you to use a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.

■Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

■Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount it says you owe.

■Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone. Don’t hand those over.

Scammers calling with aggressive and threatening demands for taxes are criminals impersonating IRS agents — and they remain a major threat for American taxpayers. Variations of the IRS impersonation scam continue year-round and tend to peak when scam artists find prime opportunities to strike — like tax season. Don’t become a victim — just hang up.