Don't plan on spending your income tax refund too quickly this year: refunds are expected to be delayed for some taxpayers.
The IRS blames the fiscal cliff debate in Washington, which delayed the date returns could be accepted by about two weeks. Also, some tax forms are just being released this week, particularly affecting some types of education tax credits.
Adam Rust, research director with consumer advocacy group Reinvestment Partners, said the delay is tough for people struggling financially.
"People who were looking to catch up on bills, they might have been thinking, 'I'll get my refund in January and I'll have enough money to catch up and pay Feb. 1 rent,'" Rust said. "That's really not going to happen."
In past years, an income tax refund took an average of nine days to receive for people who filed electronically. This year, the IRS said it could be as long as 21 days.
Kara Williams, a taxpayer assistance coordinator for a free tax preparation site, said hearing refunds are delayed or they can't file yet is a disappointment for many clients.
"It's a hot mess," Williams said. "They think, 'Well the longest I'm going to have to wait is maybe a week and a half.' They're saying that taxpayers should just generally expect it to take anywhere between 10 to 20 days. "
Until this week, taxpayers eligible for the American Opportunity Credit and the American Education Credit were not able to apply for those credits because the forms had not been released by the IRS.
Adding to the overall frustration is the expiration of the "payroll tax holiday" in January.
Free tax help is available to Floridians who earn less than $42,000 a year at locations found on IRS.gov.
- Florida News Connection