The tax refund delays this tax season could be tied not only to new identity theft detection filters, but also to overly tight business rules written into the IRS’s Electronic Fraud Detection System.

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who heads the Taxpayer Advocate Service at the IRS, wrote about the problem in a report to Congress last month (see Taxpayer Advocate Sees Threat from Increased IRS Automation and Workload). The Electronic Fraud Detection System is a data-mining program that automatically screens all tax returns with refund claims in an effort to identify dubious-looking wages, withholding credits, number of dependents and other suspicious items.

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