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The PATH Act, which mandates that the IRS delay certain income tax refunds until February 15, has the potential to keep billions of dollars from the economy in early 2017, but few taxpayers are aware of the law, and may not realize the implications it could have on their refund spending until they file their 2016 federal income tax return, according to a Liberty Tax poll.
Liberty Tax Service, a leading tax preparation franchise, commissioned the SurveyMonkey poll of more than 1,000 taxpayers in November to gauge taxpayer awareness of the PATH Act and the refund delay.
Liberty Tax Service has launched a nationwide campaign to inform taxpayers, local business owners and others about the refund delay.
The campaign includes:
- A media tour featuring Liberty Tax experts;
- A Journalists’ Guide to the PATH Act;
- Contributed articles in print and online publications;
- Blogs posted to LibertyTax.com and full results of our survey at https://www.libertytax.com/path-act-info/
- Informational seminars, brochures and messaging at local Liberty Tax offices.
But, as the survey reveals, many taxpayers will likely first hear of the refund delay when they visit local offices to have their taxes prepared. Of the more than 600 survey respondents who said they had received a 2015 income tax refund, nearly 97 percent said they had not heard of the PATH Act. The Act prohibits the IRS from issuing income tax refunds before February 15, to taxpayers receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. The additional time was added to help the IRS stop fraudulent refunds from being issued to identity thieves and fraudulent claims with fabricated wages and withholdings.
The additional time may help the IRS, but it could put a dent in spending at the start of the year. Taxpayers in the survey said they used their 2015 income tax refund for many things, including grocery purchases, bill and debt payments, rent and more. Some put their money into savings accounts. Nearly 30 percent said they received 2015 income tax refunds on or before February 15, 2016.
Because Liberty Tax Service recognizes how important the timing of refunds can be for many American families, particularly those with low to moderate income, we are working with Republic Bank & Trust Company, member FDIC, to offer an Easy Advance* loan of up to $1,300 to eligible taxpayers at participating Liberty Tax Service locations. There are no fees or interest associated with the loan, which is secured by the tax refund. Proceeds typically will be available within 24 hours of IRS acceptance of the tax return or within 24 hours of filing for those who file before the IRS start date.
Liberty Tax Service has more than 4,400 offices in the U.S. and Canada. The franchise’s locally owned and operated offices in the United States will open on January 8, 2017, to help taxpayers meet their tax obligations.