According to IRS spokesman Mark Green, the number of taxpayers who have already filed their income taxes is above the norm for this time of year. These high numbers aren’t totally good news, he said, since the IRS has also seen identity fraud at an all-time high.
The agency has taken steps to guard against identity fraud and is aggressively investigating cases. The IRS is implementing a new computer system this tax season, and the new workflow has caused refunds to come a little more slowly for taxpayers filing before Jan. 25.
Green said that he has not heard many complaints at the state level, but local H&R Block spokesman Matthew Terry said they have received calls from customers wondering where their refunds are.
“There have been a lot of substantial delays,” he said.
While H&R Block customers don’t have to interact as much with the IRS as they would if they were preparing their taxes by themselves, Terry said everyone should be prepared to deal with the agency to some degree.
Green said the best way to guard against identity theft and tax fraud is to give out social security numbers as little as possible, try not to give out financial information over the phone and update protection on personal computers regularly.