I-Team 8

IRS: Be prepared for a frustrating tax season

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Greg Geisler, a clinical professor of accounting with Indiana University, says the IRS has over 6 million unprocessed form 1040s from last year and over 2 million amended individual tax returns that haven’t been processed yet.

“It is a nightmare, it is worse than ever,” says Geisler. “Paper is kryptonite.”

Geisler, as well as the IRS, is urging taxpayers to file their taxes electronically and, if getting a refund, to set up a direct deposit.

“Don’t send them any paper. It’s not getting processed in a timely manner.”

This week, the IRS announced it will start accepting tax returns on Jan. 24, but also warned about a potentially frustrating tax season because of processing delays and shortages in customer services. This comes as many taxpayers are still waiting to get their 2020 tax returns.

“[I’m owed] over $13,000,” Rufus Duckworth, who filed early last year but is one of the millions waiting to get his money, said. “I’m still working, but is putting me back because I was going to use that money to get ahead. And because I can’t get ahead, it seems like I’m just going further back.”

Geisler says dealing with clients is the easy part for tax preparers. He says it’s the moment they have to reach out to the IRS to fix issues that gets difficult.

“The problem is the second they have to deal with the IRS. The IRS answered 11% of the phone calls they received last year, that’s all. [The other] 89% went unanswered. And that includes those that were on hold for a long time and got disconnected,” Geisler said.

Duckworth says his frustrations are growing to the point where he is considering not even filing his taxes this year. He says he’s just trying to keep his faith.

“We just gotta keep going, and can’t let nothing stop us. You know, eventually the money will come and hopefully it will come, but we just gotta keep going,” he said.

See tips below from the IRS on the best way to file taxes this year. The IRS has set up a Free File Program that becomes available on Jan. 14. The program “allows taxpayers who made $73,000 or less in 2021 to file their taxes electronically for free using software provided by commercial tax filing companies.”

Tips to make filing easier

To avoid processing delays and speed refunds, the IRS urges people to follow these steps:

  • Organize and gather 2021 tax records including Social Security numbers, individual taxpayer identification numbers, adoption taxpayer identification numbers, and this year’s identity protection personal identification numbers valid for calendar year 2022.
  • Check IRS.gov for the latest tax information, including the latest on reconciling advance payments of the child tax credit or claiming a recovery rebate credit for missing stimulus payments. There is no need to call.
  • Set up or log in securely at IRS.gov/account to access personal tax account information including balance, payments, and tax records including adjusted gross income.
  • Make final estimated tax payments for 2021 by Jan. 18 to help avoid a tax-time bill and possible penalties.
  • Individuals can use a bank account, prepaid debit card or mobile app to use direct deposit and will need to provide routing and account numbers. Learn how to open an account at an FDIC-insured bank or through the National Credit Union locator tool.
  • File a complete and accurate return electronically when ready and choose direct deposit for the quickest refund.

Key filing season dates

There are several important dates taxpayers should keep in mind for this year’s filing season:

  • Jan. 14: IRS Free File opens. Taxpayers can begin filing returns through IRS Free File partners; tax returns will be transmitted to the IRS starting Jan. 24. Tax software companies also are accepting tax filings in advance.
  • Jan. 18: Due date for tax year 2021 fourth quarter estimated tax payment.
  • Jan. 24: IRS begins 2022 tax season. Individual 2021 tax returns begin being accepted and processing begins.
  • Jan. 28: Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day to raise awareness of valuable tax credits available to many people – including the option to use prior-year income to qualify.
  • April 18: Due date to file 2021 tax return or request extension and pay tax owed due to Emancipation Day holiday in Washington, D.C., even for those who live outside the area.
  • April 19: Due date to file 2021 tax return or request extension and pay tax owed for those who live in Massachusetts or Maine due to Patriots’ Day holiday.
  • Oct. 17: Due date to file for those requesting an extension on their 2021 tax returns.