What Central Floridians should be aware of this tax season

H&R Block enrolled agent visits 'The Weekly'

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Internal Revenue Service last week officially kicked off tax season, and experts are warning that filing your taxes this year could be taxing for a couple of reasons. 

One factor is the aftermath of the government shutdown. Several reports indicate the IRS is already seeing a backlog following the 35-day shutdown, and there are worries that it could close again if Congress and the president do not agree on a spending bill for border security. 

There's also a lot of uncertainty on how taxpayers will be affected by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act -- a massive tax overhaul passed by Congress in 2017. 

Some of the changes include new tax rates, replacing personal exemption with a higher standard deduction and an increase in child tax credit, which is now doubled from years past. 

Of course, filing is different for everyone, but H&R Block enrolled agent Valerie Finello told News 6 anchor Justin Warmoth on "The Weekly on ClickOrlando.com" that just about everyone will be impacted by the changes. 

"It impacts virtually everyone," Finello said. "There is a new tax rate and a new tax bracket, so everybody's situation is unique."

Finello has already helped several Central Floridians file their taxes this year. She says just about everyone has been asking about whether or not they'll be receiving a refund check. 

"The best thing that I've seen is that people are getting refund checks," Finello said. "They're also paying less taxes and enjoying a higher child tax credit. It's been helping a lot of people." 

Tax identity theft is also something taxpayers should be aware of, according to Finello. The website YouMail.com calls the scheme an epidemic with an estimated 783 million tax scam robocalls made in 2018. 

"Somewhere between 3 to 5 percent of the people who are called, call back," YouMail CEO Alex Quilici said. "If you're calling back, you're actually thinking something real is happening, and that makes you a potential victim. That's an enormous amount of potential victims." 

Finello wants to stress to taxpayers to never give out their information over the phone. 

"The IRS never demands payment over the phone," Finello said. "It's a scam and it happens to too many people, especially the elderly."

For more information on tax season, watch "The Weekly on ClickOrlando.com" at 8 a.m. Sunday on News 6. 

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