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Consumer Alert: Important changes for this tax season

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Tax season officially opened this week with the Internal Revenue Service processing and accepting returns for the 2016 tax year.

Whether you prepare early or procrastinate, there are some changes you should know about.

If you haven't heard already, taxpayers who claim the Earned Income or Additional Child tax credits won't get refunds until after February 15th.

There's also a new requirement for people who use tax software to e-file.

William Pilot is an Enrolled Agent and owner of Pilot's Income Tax and Bookkeeping Service in Whitehaven.

He explained, "Taxpayers that are going to file their own tax returns using software, they're going to have to have their modified adjusted gross income in order to do that."

You'll find your AGI on last year's return.

If you don't have a copy, get a tax transcript online from the IRS.

With such a big focus on identity theft and refund fraud, Pilot says it's even more important to choose a qualified tax preparer.

"In today's reality, you do need to know who you're working with."

Use the IRS website to search for preparers' credentials.

IRS Return Preparer Directory

Keep in mind, you sign your return, so another tip is to avoid mistakes.

Such mistakes can range from basic information errors to under reporting income.

Pilot also says taxpayers should work to keep returns free of audit red flags.

"One is dependents, claiming dependents that they don't qualify for. Another is claiming expenses that are either way out of line or you're not entitled to."

Pilot said maintaining and organizing records is critical. He says this allows taxpayers to always be able to document any information on a return.

This year's tax filing deadline is April 18th.

Key Changes for 2017