BLOOMINGTON — Tax season has gotten off to a busy start locally, but experts tell taxpayers not to worry now about changes in the massive tax reform law because those won't take effect until people file their 2017 taxes next year.
“Really, the only changes that matter this year are the changes due to inflation and the formulas that adjust from year to year,” said Fred Strieff, a tax preparer with McLean County Accounting and Tax Services, 1220 Towanda Ave., Bloomington.
Still, tax preparers, who saw an uptick in business this week, say it’s a good idea to get a handle on the upcoming changes in the $1.5 trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act President Donald Trump signed on Dec. 22.
“Even though the new tax laws are a year from going into effect, we are letting our clients know what some of those changes are now,” said Angela Bryant, a senior tax analyst with H&R Block at 101 E. Empire St., Bloomington. “It might affect the way they want to do things this year such as making changes in their withholding. It’s a good time to re-evaluate any of those things, anyway.”
The Internal Revenue Service's adjusted payroll tax withholding tables reflecting the law's adjusted rates will go into effect by Feb. 15.
The Illinois Department of Revenue and the IRS began accepting 2017 individual income tax returns Monday. The due date for filing your taxes is extended to April 17 because April 15 is a Sunday and Emancipation Day, a Washington, D.C., holiday, falls on April 16.
While that's more than two months away, many people aren't waiting.
“The phone and our appointment books have been getting increasingly busy over the past few weeks, which will be the case for the coming few months,” Bryant said.
Last year, more than 6 million individual income tax returns were filed with the Illinois Department of Revenue. Of those, 84 percent were filed electronically. Over 4 million, or 66 percent, of those who filed an individual income tax return received a refund.
The IDOR says the fastest and most secure way to receive tax refunds is to file electronically and request direct deposit into a checking or savings account. The department anticipates direct deposit refunds to be issued four weeks from the time error-free, electronically filed returns are submitted.
The Illinois tax rate increased in July 2017 to 4.95 percent from 3.75 percent, but most filers will use a blended rate of 4.35 percent because the rate changed midyear.
Illinois' free online tax account management program is accessible at www.mytax.illinois.gov.
The IRS cannot issue refunds for filings claiming the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit before mid-February, but it will process those returns as they are received. Refunds for those returns likely will be available via direct deposit by Feb. 27.
IDOR officials also will be placing more emphasis on fraud this year, said IDOR Director Connie Beard.
Fraud prevention efforts resulted in more than $31 million in savings last year, she added, a 52 percent increase from 2016.