Tax refund checks may be delayed for thousands of low-income families

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WASHINGTON — Low-income families that rely on timely tax refunds could be getting screwed this tax season.

The IRS is warning Americans that 2016 refunds could be delayed. Who's to blame? Identity thieves and fraudsters.

“From 2015 and 2014 we've seen an increase on fraudulent returns. We file a return for a family, and we receive a notice that they already, someone filed a return for that family and that's a big issue,” CPA Max Jambrina said.

Thanks to some 2015 legislation, this year the IRS has to closely screen any returns claiming the earned income tax credit or the additional child credit.

That's 40 million working families, generally those on the lower end of the income bracket.

For families on a strict budget, this adds stress to an already difficult tax season.

“The average earned income credit is around $3,500 in those families; it's substantial. It's a big issue," Jambrina said.

The IRS starts accepting returns Jan. 23. While usually the early bird that e-files and chooses direct deposit can get their return by mid-February, they're looking at a two week push back.

“Human nature would say that procrastination will be the case,” Jambrina said.

But experts say don't fall into that trap! It's best to get it in early, especially if you're getting money back.

For those of you that have to pay and want to wait for the last minute, you have until Tuesday, April 18. The IRS isn't as forgiving about being late as they'd like us to be.