Fiscal cliff deal may delay 2013 tax refunds

January 5, 2013 12:32:07 AM PST
The so-called fiscal cliff is behind us for now, but there is still uncertainty about the upcoming tax season. A spokesperson for the IRS told Action News the agency is still going over the legislation just signed by President Obama this week and as a result, some forms still need to be updated.

The United Way of Fresno County prepares tax returns for thousands of Central Valley residents every year. This year, its VITA volunteer training has already been delayed as the agency waits for updated training materials. "We're going to improvise using the old training material, go through that at that part of the beginning of the training," said Program Coordinator Mary Ronell.

The VITA Program offers free tax services for families making less than $54,000 a year. Volunteer training usually begins in December, but because of the fiscal cliff negotiations, it was delayed by a month.

The uncertainty is also impacting operations at tax preparation businesses, like Liberty Tax Service. Liberty is expecting a software update next week, after another delay caused by the fiscal cliff. In the meantime, they are still serving clients and beginning tax preparation services. "We have to let them know they have to come back and sign all the papers so we can finalize the return. That's the difference this year? a lot of coming back, waiting for a lot of unknowns," said Erik Munoz, an office manager at the Cedar and Shields location.

Tax filing season usually begins in mid-January. Last year, the IRS started accepting returns on January 17.

Liberty is telling clients the IRS may start accepting returns on January 22 but a spokesperson for the IRS declined to talk about any date or speculate on a possible delay.