H&R Block Delays Education Credit Tax Returns for 600,000 People

Roughly 600,000 people will likely experience delayed returns.

On Tuesday, the Internal Revenue Service announced hundreds of thousands of tax filers will likely face a delay on their returns of up to six weeks because of a change on Form 8863 for education tax credits.

The error affected 600,000 people, roughly 10 percent of the total population that filed returns claiming education credits this tax season. 

Software Fails to Address Yes or No Questions
While the IRS did not name any specific accounting service provider in the statement published on its website, all fingers are pointed at H&R Block, the largest tax preparer in the United Stated. The company stated because of a software glitch, its system did not fill out a specific section of Form 8863.

In February, the IRS noted a significant amount of Form 8863s were coming in incomplete or were not filed out correctly. The federal agency warned of the changes to the form and stated some questions require a Yes or No response. These questions include whether students completed four years of post-secondary education before 2012 and if they have been convicted of a federal or state felony for possession or distribution of a controlled substance before the end of last year, according to Accounting Today.

Two sections on the form were left blank for thousands of tax payers filing claims for education credits.

"These instances are causing downstream processing delays," the IRS stated, according to the news source.

In its most recent statement, the agency stated it is reviewing the situation and is in talks with software companies. 

"Typically, the review process for a situation like this takes up to eight weeks," the IRS said. "This means the IRS may need as much as four to six weeks from this date to issue a refund to the taxpayer."

Social Media Becomes Outlet for Complaints
H&R Block customers, enraged by the software snafu, took to social media to voice their unhappiness. The company's Facebook profile has received thousands of negative comments concerning Form 8863. On Tuesday, H&R Block posted, "There continues to be a lot of information floating around regarding the Form 8863 issue that is impacting a number of our clients ... We are reaching out to each and every one of you individually to give you direction and give you the facts. Please look for those emails, calls or letters starting tomorrow." 

The post included a link to a statement from Monday acknowledging the errors and reiterating information provided by the IRS's statement.

Tax Filing Errors Arise During Troubling Times
The returns delay comes at a time when economic uncertainty prevails and many U.S. residents are facing hiking gas prices and significant payroll tax increases. In addition, MarketWatch notes the state deadlines for students to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to apply for financial aid is approaching quickly.

The Department of Education stated students whose tax returns have not yet been processed by the IRS can manually enter their tax return information into their FAFSA application online.