MONTGOMERY, Ala. — More than a half million Alabamians could have their tax refunds delayed next year.

Those within the state could find themselves waiting until almost spring instead of the typical January timeframe because of an IRS procedure change, Al.com (http://bit.ly/2bEQXhQ) reported. The IRS will hold tax refunds for filers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit until at least Feb. 15.

In 2014, about 507,000 Alabamians filed for ETC credits. Those in the state were a part of the 27.5 million people who filed for the same credits throughout the country.

In Alabama, the EITC average return amount was $2,784.

“This is an important change to be aware of for some taxpayers used to getting an early refund,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We’ll be focusing on awareness of this change throughout the fall, but it’s important for taxpayers who might be affected by this to be aware of the change for their planning purposes. Although we still expect to issue most refunds within 21 days, we don’t want people caught by surprise if they get their refund a few weeks later than previous years.”

The IRS usually issues refunds with 21 days or less after processing begins on a return. The agency began accepting returns Jan. 19 this year.

Taxpayer will file their returns as usual for claiming the credits.

The national average is $2,400. The child tax credit was claimed by 22.4 million people in the U.S. two years ago.