Tax season is in full effect and another government shutdown is possible this weekend, so the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is offering a few tips of their own.
The IRS says they receive more calls on the day after President’s Day than on any day throughout the year. That’s why they are advising taxpayers to avoid the rush this tax season. There are several resources available to help you understand the new tax laws under the Trump administration on IRS.gov, but here are the top tips the service wants you to keep in mind:
1. File your taxes online.
The IRS offers e-File and Free File options, which allow you to file your tax documents digitally from a phone or computer. Rather than printing everything out and mailing it to D.C., which typically takes longer, you can fill out the forms on your computer. Some files even do the math for you.
2. File sooner, rather than later
Obviously, the longer you wait to file, the longer it will take to get your refund back. The more quickly you file, the more quickly the IRS and approve and return your refund. Plus, you don’t want to fall behind because the deadline to file is April 15.
3. Use IRS.gov to answer tax questions
The IRS offers a variety of online tools to help taxpayers answer common tax questions. For example, taxpayers can search the Interactive Tax Assistant, Tax Topics, Frequently Asked Questions, Tax Trails and the IRS Tax Map to get faster answers.
4. Learn the new tax laws
Tax reform efforts on Capitol Hill led to some changes in the laws that might affect your refund or your tax bracket. One of the changes is the redesigned Form 1040, which now takes the place of both the Form 1040-A and Form 1040-EZ. The IRS encourages you to review Publication 5307, Tax Reform Basics for Individuals and Families, for more information about tax reform.
5. Use free tax software or volunteer assistance
It might be best for you to let an expert do the hard work. Taxpayers can get free tax preparation assistance through IRS Free File, for those who want to prepare their own returns, or through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, for those who want a volunteer to help prepare their returns. There are also numerous private tax-prep companies with free options like H&R Block and Turbo Tax, where you simply input your information and answer some questions, rather than filling out all the forms.
6. Have your Form W-2?
Call your employer first for that missing Form W-2. Those who did not receive a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from one or more employers by Jan. 31 should first contact the issuer to inform them of the missing form. Those who do not get a response must still file on time and may need to use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, or Form 1099R, Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRA’s Insurance Contracts, etc..
7. Track your Refund!
The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. IRS customer service representatives cannot answer refund questions until after the 21-day period. But taxpayers can track their refund anytime by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go app. Taxpayers can also call the IRS refund hotline at 800-829-1954. To track refunds containing the Earned Income Tax Credit and/or the Additional Child Tax Credit, use Where’s My Refund starting February 27. By law, the IRS cannot release refunds that include EITC or ACTC. The earliest those refunds will be deposited into accounts is February 27.
The IRS also says taxpayers who call before and after Presidents Day weekend should be prepared for long wait times because of the high volume of calls received on all toll-free lines. February 19 will be the busiest day of the year. You can use the Let Us Help You page for alternatives to calling and for documents, such as prior-year tax return information, taxpayers may need to validate their identities.
As Krystle Sherrell reported, a tax expert in Wichita emphatically recommends that you wait until the refund comes in before spending the money because it is unclear when those refunds will come in, especially if the government shuts down this week.
The deadline to fund the government is 12:00 a.m. on February 16, and negotiations have stalled over the border wall and immigration dispute.