What You Need to Know About Filing 2017 Tax Returns

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The Internal Revenue Service started accepting 2017 tax returns on Monday.

Despite all of the discussion about tax cuts and changes to tax code, the Iowa Department of Revenue said those won’t go into effect until next year, which means the process of filing 2017 returns will be very similar to last year.

“The biggest changes are going forward with the 2018 return. From our standpoint, that’s what we’ve been trying to get our preparers and our people adjusted to, what’s it going to look like going forward,” certified Public Accountant Dave Boelman said.

Tax preparers and the Iowa Department of Revenue said it’s very important to file taxes early.

“I think filing early is encouraged because it doesn’t give cyber criminals the opportunity to file a fraudulent tax refund in somebody else’s name. So the earlier you file, the less likely that might happen,” said Iowa Department of Revenue Public Information Officer John Fuller.

Boelman said it’s also important to file early for other reasons.

“We saw last year with the state of Iowa, things can get backed up a little bit with regards to refunds. Getting in and identifying those issues a little faster can help you mitigate some of those things and help you resolve some issues if something comes up,” he said.

If you have a fairly simple return, Boelman said it’s best to file online or through a tax software, but if your return is more complicated--for example, if you recently bought a house or got married--it’s better to go through a tax preparer to avoid making errors.

“In 2017, the department identified $44 million in fraudulent or erroneous refund claims. So that includes $17 million in claims stopped by our fraud review team and another $27 million in mistakes that we found on the forms,” Fuller said.

Boelman and Fuller said if you are filing on your own, it’s important to double check everything.

“Make sure you have all of your income reported. That’s number one. If you are itemizing on your own, it’s just going through all of your expenses and reading the instructions and being thorough about can I take this, can I not take this, as far as a deduction is concerned. And usually the home software programs do a good job on that question answer section to help guide you,” Boelman said.

The federal deadline to file is April 17th and the state deadline is April 30th. The Iowa Department of Revenue said it is not giving a timetable on when people will receive their returns because of the extensive reviews on each return to avoid fraud.