Here we are, with a little over six weeks to go before the tax filing deadline on Tuesday, April 18. Have you prepared and filed your taxes yet?
The COVID effect
Since COVID-19, the IRS has been way behind processing paper tax returns because it sent all of its workers home in March of 2020. While it tried to maintain some level of customer service, it was the paper correspondence that piled up with no one at the facility. When workers came back, there were literally mountains of unopened returns, communications and documents. It was so bad that in July of 2021, the IRS determined it never was going to catch up and purposefully destroyed 30 million unprocessed informational returns. This entire series of events has caused almost every taxpayer some level of pain.
To keep your return from being caught in this mess, I recommend e-filing your return, especially if you are receiving a refund. As a note, if you owe taxes with your 2022 return, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the IRS won’t process your payment for the 6-9 months it is taking them to process the return. If there is one thing that the IRS is good at, it is collecting money! They will open your return, extract the tax payment and then send the return to processing.
One of the questions that we get most frequently in our office is: “How can I check on the status of my tax return?” To do this, you can go to IRS.gov to create an account using the ID.ME system to verify your identity. On this website, you can view your return(s) for the past several years, make a tax payment, create a payment plan or view your outstanding balance. Be forewarned though: The ID.ME system is notoriously difficult to establish your identity. They will ask questions about past returns and other questions about items specific to you. If you can’t prove your identity on this system, here is the next step.
My preferred way of working with the IRS is to pick up the phone and call them. Their phone number is 1 800-829-1040. Be prepared to wait, though. It can take 30 minutes or more for them to pick up once you are in the queue. However, once they do pick up, you can speak with someone knowledgeable about the best way to provide the information or solve the problem that you are experiencing. They will be able to direct you as to the next step in the process.
Checking on your refund
On the front page of IRS.gov is the ability to check the status of your refund. To do this, you will need the taxpayer’s Social Security number, the filing status and the exact amount of the refund. For most e-filed returns, you should receive your refund within 4 to 5 weeks. However, there are times when the IRS needs to verify certain information. This causes the return to be taken out of the normal process and the refund can then take three months or more to be issued. We always recommend that you have the refund direct deposited to your bank account.
Returns from 2021 and earlier
We still have returns filed during the 2021 tax season that have yet to be processed. If you are waiting for a very old return or refund, DO NOT just refile the return. This will cause even more confusion and delays. You should call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to determine if they have received the return. Most likely they have and just haven’t processed it. If they have received it, just be patient. They will get to it. If the IRS does not have a copy of receiving the return, then you can mail it in again. Of course, you did keep a copy of the certified mail receipt from the first time you mailed it in, correct? You will want to include a letter explaining that the return had been filed on time, and that you have proof of this filing.
If you need help with more-complex tax issues, our team at CS CPA Group is always ready to assist, give us a call at 520-568-3303 or visit our website.