The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warns taxpayers of challenges this tax season. Dr. Kerri Tassin, associate professor in the School of Accountancy at Missouri State University, encourages taxpayers to file an accurate return to avoid delays and speed up refunds.
“Recent changes in tax law and ongoing challenges related to COVID-19 have added extra pressure to this year’s tax return season,” Tassin said.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is facing a manpower shortage resulting in continued delays on last year’s returns and overwhelmed phone lines.
“You will likely experience long wait times if you call the IRS for assistance, or your call may go unanswered,” Tassin said.
Tassin recommends looking for information on irs.gov before calling.
File an accurate tax return
Many news sites have encouraged taxpayers to file their 2021 return as soon as possible. But Tassin warns that rushing to file your return may backfire.
“While it’s a good idea to file your return as soon as possible, you’ll want to ensure that you have all the information you need to file a complete and accurate return,” Tassin said.
“Any information left off or inaccurately reported will slow down the processing of your refund.”
File electronically and choose direct deposit
The IRS advises taxpayers to file their returns electronically. Those who must mail a paper copy can expect significant delays.
If possible, provide your direct deposit information on your return. This will allow you to receive your return in a timely and secure manner.
Economic impact payments and child tax credits
Taxpayers who received an economic impact payment or child tax credits will receive letters from the IRS to help them file an accurate return.
The IRS reports that a small group of taxpayers have received inaccurate letters. You can verify the information in your letter by logging into your irs.gov account and checking your payment status.
Unique tax situations
There are several unique situations that may affect the processing of your 2021 tax refund.
Individuals who have not received their 2020 refund
There are provisions in place that will allow you to enter an alternative number for your 2020 adjusted gross income (AGI), Tassin explains.
The IRS website advises taxpayers still waiting for their 2020 tax return to be processed to enter $0 (zero dollars) for their 2020 AGI on the 2021 tax return.
Earned income credit or additional child tax credits
Returns that include earned income credit or additional child tax credits will undergo an additional verification process with the IRS, Tassin explains.
“Taxpayers who claimed these credits may find themselves waiting longer on a refund than expected,” Tassin said. “This doesn’t mean there is something wrong. The IRS is reviewing these returns more closely due to an uptick in fraud cases.”
When in doubt
If you’re worried about your return, seek professional assistance, Tassin recommends.
“Record numbers of taxpayers have made the decision to retire in the past year or changed their employment status,” Tassin said.
“A tax professional or CPA can help you make sense of any changes in your tax responsibilities.”
IRS-certified volunteers prepare free basic federal and state tax returns with electronic filing for qualified individuals.
They also offer specialized assistance for seniors with questions about pensions and retirement-related issues.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program
The Community Partnership of the Ozarks coordinates with several organizations to provide tax preparation assistance in the Greene County area.
The VITA program is offered to taxpayers of low-to-moderate income ($58,000 or less) and for people with disabilities.
VITA clinics will operate Feb. 1 to April 15 and appointments are required. Call 417-720-2000 to schedule an appointment. Expect delays due to call volume.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program
The SeniorAge Area Agency on Aging organizes the TCE program for adults 60 years of age and over and 100% disabled individuals. They will prepare free federal and state tax returns and Missouri Property Tax Credit (rent rebate) forms.
TCE sites will operate from early February to the end of tax season. Appointments are required. Contact your nearest SeniorAge Senior Center at 417-862-0762 for further information and to make an appointment.
The MyFreeTaxes Partnership provides free online state and federal tax preparation and filing assistance for qualified individuals.