U.S. taxpayers procrastinate on filing returns this year

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By Beth Pinsker | NEW YORK

NEW YORK Tax season in the United States is off
to a slow start.

The number of people filing their taxes with the Internal
Revenue Service is running well below last year. The number of
returns received by the agency was off 8.5 percent from Jan. 23
through March 3. And refunds were down 7.1 percent in dollar
terms (bit.ly/2mCcpv8).

These numbers are usually flat year to year, so a
significant drop in tax filings means something unusual is going
on.

One simple reason is a fluke of the calendar. The tax
deadline is April 18 instead of the traditional April 15, which
falls on a Saturday this year.

The most significant reason, however, and one cited by the
IRS, is that a new regulation delayed refunds by taxpayers claiming an Earned Income Tax Credit or an Additional Child Tax
Credit until Feb. 15. (reut.rs/2nwxqX1)

This caused a slowdown among Andy Stadler’s tax preparation
clients in Terre Haute, Indiana. His office typically prepares
7,000 returns a year. The Path Act, as the new regulation is
known, affected about 70 percent of the people in his area. Now
that the delayed refund date has passed, Stadler expected a
flood of late filers in April.

In higher-income areas, some of the procrastinators are
waiting for brokerage statements or paperwork known as K-1s,
which details income from parternships, trusts or S
corporations.

Jeffrey Schneider, an enrolled agent with offices in Port
St. Lucie and Royal Palm Beach, Florida, said this was slowing
down some of his clients. He has not even received the paperwork
needed to complete his own taxes yet.

Nevertheless, he is still working 12-hour days to get
through the files already on his desk.

An intangible factor gumming up the works this year is
anxiety about the winds of change in Washington.

Andy Stadler said he has called a few stragglers to ask why
they have not yet made an appointment with him, and they
explained that they did not want to file yet because they were
waiting to see what President Donald Trump would do with the tax
code.

“I explained that whatever changes there would be would not
be for 2016, Stadler said. “Then they came in and took care of
things.”



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