Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Taxing Situation: Irs' Action Angers Early Filers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Taxing Situation: Irs' Action Angers Early Filers

Article excerpt

Tempers are hot at the Richardson & Associates tax preparers in Jennings.

"Our people have been worked over like animals," said Jim Richardson. "It's brutal. One guy who came in here had a knife. These people are desperate for money."

Richardson's customers are desperate for their federal income tax refunds, and they're yelling about it.

They expected to pick up checks at Richardson's a few days after filing their returns electronically. Instead, Richardson says, 1,100 of his customers' returns have been kicked back by the IRS.

It's part of a new IRS crackdown on fraud that is apparently stalling refunds for more than a million taxpayers across the nation.

For the first time, the IRS is checking Social Security numbers before it issues refund checks.

If the names and numbers don't match Social Security files, the IRS computer spits out the return. That's happened with 1.2 million of the 10.4 million returns it has received so far, says the IRS.

Among those snared are married women who never notified Social Security of their name change, said IRS spokeswoman Nova Felton. A taxpayer named William Jones would be snagged if he filed his return as Bill Jones.

A problem with a dependent child's number can also derail a return.

Instead of refund checks, such taxpayers will get letters. Some will have to straighten out the mess by changing their Social Security records.

Others will get their money after the IRS double checks their returns. That should be about eight weeks after the letters arrive, says the IRS.

"People get ornery when that happens," says Jim Richardson, who has called police twice to calm irate customers. One customer threatened to smash his employees' cars in the parking lot, he said.

Richardson sells a "fast check" service. After filing a return electronically, he waits for approval from the IRS. Until this year, approval normally came within 48 hours.

Then he issues a check to the taxpayer, subtracts his own fee, and waits to be reimbursed by the government. Fees range from $40 to $150, depending on the refund.

Harriet Smith of North County says the IRS rejected her return over a child's Social Security number, even though the name and number match the child's Social Security card. …

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