As Tax Deadline Approaches, Experts Answer Filing Questions
If you’re more confused than usual filing your tax return this year, you’re not alone.
Most people are still not sure about how the new tax code affects them.
Tax returns are down from one year ago as well as the processing of returns.
Confusion about the new tax code could have something to do with that.
But federal income tax filings are due to the IRS by April 15.
Raphael Tulino is a spokesperson with the IRS. He told KNPR's State of Nevada that the confusion this year stems from the changes made to the tax code in late 2017.
He said the 1040 form, which is the form most people are familiar with, has changed a lot. There are also new tax schedules and forms like the 1040a and 1040EZ are gone.
"In the law itself, there are many, many provisions for individuals and business that are affecting us in some way, shape or form," he said, "Some of the major things you're seeing on the return itself, for example, the personal exemptions - those are gone. The standard deduction has been double, or nearly doubled for the most part."
He said a lot of the credits and deductions have been modified this year. Along with those changes, tax brackets have been reduced.
Tulino said many people are finding that they owe money or are not getting as much back in a refund because the withholding schedules changed but people didn't change their withholdings on their paychecks.
He advises people to look at what is being withheld and what they're getting back in a refund to make sure they're making the right choices.
With tax season comes tax scams, Tara Sullivan is a special agent with the IRS. She warns people not to fall for some of the tax scams, which include people calling and claiming they're with the IRS.
She reminded people that the IRS does not call you out of the blue. They may call AFTER they have sent several letters that have been unanswered, but they would never cold call and demand repayment of taxes.
Another scam popping up this year is people claiming to be from the tax advocate services.
"Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent agency that helps taxpayers if they have a problem," Sullivan said, "So, now, you'll see a phone number come up that will say Taxpayer Advocate Service but it's the bad guys spoofing."
Sullivan and Tulino remind everyone that you are responsible for what is on your tax return. The advise people to be very careful about who they choose to prepare taxes.
Tulino said the vast majority of people e-file through a tax prep software or through the IRS' free e-file program. He said most people can actually use software and not a tax preparer, even if they think they have a complicated tax preparation.
He also said that if you have a dispute with the IRS you have the right to go to the agency and work it out. He strongly urged anyone who is behind in taxes or thinks there is a problem with their taxes to contact the agency right away to work it out.
Sullivan said the only time a tax issue gets moved to the criminal side of the agency is if there is more than a simple mistake. She said if there is willful intent to avoid taxes the criminal side of the agency will get involved.
TOP TEN TIPS FROM THE IRS:
Gather your records: Round up any documents you will need when filing your taxes, including receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support income or deductions you will be claiming on your tax return. Store them in a safe place.
Report all your income: You will need all your Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statements, and 1099 income statements to report your income when you file your tax return. To ensure you don’t misplace them, add them to your other records.
Get answers to questions: Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool available on the IRS website to find answers to your questions about tax credits and deductions.
Use Free File: There is at least one option available for everyone to prepare and e-file a tax return at no cost. Let IRS Free File do the work for you with brand-name tax software or online fillable forms. It's available exclusively at IRS.gov. If your income was $57,000 or less, you qualify to use free tax software. If your income was higher, or you are comfortable preparing your own tax return, there's Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. Visit IRS.gov/freefile to review your options.
Try IRS e-file: IRS e-file is the best way to file an accurate tax return. It’s safe, easy and the way most taxpayers file their return. Last year, more than 80 percent of taxpayers used IRS e-file. Many tax preparers are now required to use e-file. If you owe taxes, you have the option to file early and pay by April 15.
Weigh your filing options: You have several options for filing your tax return. You can prepare it yourself or go to a tax preparer. You may be eligible for free, face-to-face help at a volunteer site. Weigh your options and choose the one that works best for you.
Use direct deposit: Combining e-file with direct deposit is the fastest and safest way for you to get your refund.
Visit the IRS website: The IRS website at IRS.gov is a great place to find everything you need to file your tax return. This includes many online tools, filing tips, answers to frequently asked questions, the latest tax law changes, forms and publications.
Remember number 17: Check out Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, on the IRS website. It’s a complete tax resource that includes information such as whether you need to file or how to choose your filing status.
Review your return: Don’t rush. We all make mistakes when we rush. Mistakes slow down the processing of your return. Be sure to double check all Social Security numbers and math calculations on your return as these are the most common errors. If you run into a problem, remember the IRS is here to help. Start with IRS.gov.
- Sharing Economy Tax Center
- Interactive Tax Assistant tool
- IRS Free File
- E-file Options
- Free Tax Return Preparation for You by Volunteers
- Filing Your Taxes
- Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax
- Publication 5307 Tax Reform Basic for Individuals and Families
Raphael Tulino, spokesperson, IRS; Tara Sullivan, special agent, IRS