600,000 tax returns could be delayed thanks to a computer glitch and a change to a federal tax form. H&R Block helped prepare many of those tax returns.
This issue only affects customers who filed in an H&R Block office or with the company's software February 14-22, 2013.
An H&R Block spokesperson told WFMY News 2 it's not the only the tax preparer affected by the glitch.
Here's what happened: There are fields on education related tax form 8863 the company left blank and did not respond to a yes or no question. In the past, the IRS would interpret that blank field as a "no."
However, this year, the government required a yes or no response. By leaving the field blank, it's creating an error and causing processing delays.
People affected by the glitch could see their tax refund delayed by four to six weeks. H&R Block has already corrected the problem with its software to prevent this from happening again.
The company is keeping customers updated on its Facebook page. H&R Block says it is reaching out to all of the customers affected by this problem. If your form was filled out incorrectly, you do not need to do anything but wait.
Statement from H&R Block:
* Any problems that occurred with Form 8863 have been fixed
* H&R Block clients have no immediate action and are being contacted directly
* The scope of the issue being reported is not accurate. The number of impacted taxpayers is NOT just those who are H&R Block clients.
* The IRS has informed us and other impacted providers that they are currently processing returns and should be able to more accurately provide refund timelines via its "Where's My Refund?" web site. Some H&R Block clients are already reporting a change in their refund status since the IRS began processing these returns.
* It's important to note that the tax returns were prepared accurately. The error occurred in e-file processing.
H&R Block appreciates that the recent issue involving the filing of Form 8863 may be causing clients problems. We continue to work with the IRS on their behalf. Right now we are resolutely focused on ensuring the returns are processed on behalf of our clients. We will continue to update clients as more information becomes available. We thank clients for their patience while we work with the IRS to expedite the filing.
H&R Block has confirmed with the IRS that there was an issue with a limited number of software company products that affected some tax returns filed between Feb. 14 and 22, 2013. These affected returns included certain education tax credits claimed on Form 8863.
H&R Block has worked with the IRS to expedite a solution to this issue for our affected clients.
We are communicating directly with our impacted clients to assure them that we are doing everything we can to expedite their returns. The IRS has informed us and other impacted providers that they are currently processing these returns. This review process means the IRS may need 4-6 weeks from this date to issue a refund. H&R Block clients are already reporting a change in their refund status since the IRS began processing these returns.
The IRS is reminding taxpayers to check "Where's My Refund?" on IRS.gov to determine the status of their refund. Please note this website is updated overnight by the IRS, so you don't need to check it more than once a day.
At this time, there is no additional action needed if you are an H&R Block client who:
1. Received an IRS letter requesting additional information for Form 8863 and already responded to the IRS; or
2. Have not received an IRS letter about Form 8863 to date.
For those H&R Block clients who have received a letter from the IRS and have yet to respond, please call your local H&R Block office or 800-HRBLOCK. The office or customer service agent will be able to serve you and provide next steps.
The IRS has stopped sending letters based on this Form 8863 issue to this group of affected H&R Block clients.
If affected clients applied for financial aid through the FAFSA program, there are manual steps they can take that will allow their FAFSA application to proceed while their return is still processing.
The Department of Education suggests:
• If your return has not yet been processed by the IRS, you can manually enter the tax return data on the application.
• Return to the online FAFSA to update the information when your return has been processed.
This information is posted on the FAFSA section of the Department of Education website http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.
H&R Block appreciates that this issue may cause problems for our clients and we are doing everything in our power to address the processing of these returns. We will continue to update clients as more information becomes available. We thank our clients for their patience while we continue to work with the IRS to expedite the filing process on their behalf.