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The EITC and identity theft

Federal regulators put the earned income tax credit (EITC) in place to benefit low- and moderate-income individuals. The EITC particularly benefits individuals with children. Families with three or more qualifying children could claim up a maximum of $6,269 as a result of the EITC. And taxpayers without children could also qualify. The EITC differs from other credits in that even individuals who owe no tax may be eligible for a refund.

A taxpayer who earned less than $53,505 during the last year could qualify for this benefit. However, it appears that this year taxpayers claiming the EITC could face delays in receiving a refund. Due to concerns over identity theft and fraudulent returns, the IRS is delaying refunds regarding the EITC until Feb. 15. It is likely that processing of such refunds will cause even greater delays.

The aim of such a delay is to provide the IRS with greater time to screen for fraudulent tax returns. As it appears fraudulent tax returns involving identity theft are on the rise, the IRS is taking additional steps to block such practices from occurring.

Estimates show that the IRS paid $3.1 billion in tax refunds for identity theft in 2014, and as much as $5.8 billion the year before that. Unfortunately, in the case of those eligible for the EITC tax credit, identity theft is depriving the very individuals who could benefit from a tax refund the most.

Proving identify theft occurred can be extremely difficult, however. It involves investigation and organization of documentation. Therefore, it may prove useful to speak to experienced legal counsel to explore your options if you are a victim of identity theft.

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