Six Tax Filing Myths
Tax filing season; a time many people find stressful enough without having to worry about unsubstantiated myths and fears regarding their tax returns. Let's face it, you're busy, and the last thing you need is to worry about things that you may have heard, but just simply are not true!
Here is what the IRS currently considers as the most prevalent tax-filing myths and what you should know about them. So read on, and then take a chill pill!
Myth 1: All refunds are delayed.
Uh, no, they aren't! Most taxpayers get their refunds in less than three weeks, even faster if you use electronic filing and direct deposit.
This myth may stem from the fact that by law, the IRs couldn't issue refunds for returns that claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February, but even those refunds have begun to be issued.
That said, some returns will take longer to process for any number of reasons. For one, the recent barrage of identity theft issues has caused the IRS and its Security Summit partners to strengthening security reviews in an effort to combat fraudsters.
Myth 2: Delayed refunds, those claiming EITC and/or ACTC, should have been sent February 15th.
Actually, just because the IRS isn't allowed by law to issue refunds that include these credits before mid-February didn't mean taxpayers would get those refunds in mid-February. The IRS actually didn't begin issuing those until February 27th. If there are problems with the return, it takes even longer.
Myth 3: You can order a tax transcript to find out a refund date.
Nice try, but again, nope. According to the IRS, the transcript information doesn't necessarily indicate the refund amount or when it will be received. Clients can use a transcript to validate past income and tax-filing status for mortgage, and student and small-business loan applications, but they should use the agency's "Where's my Refund?" to check on their refund status.
Myth 4: A call to the IRS or tax preparer will reveal a refund date.
Is your head hurting yet? As stated before, you can go to "Where's My Refund" at IRS.gov to check your refund status. Alternatively, try the "IRS2Go" mobile app. Refund status is updated once a day, typically overnight. "Where's My Refund" has the same information that the IRS phone reps do.
Myth 5: It's best to call the IRS for help.
Ok, now it's getting deep! If you have ever tried this, you likely know how utterly pointless this can be. Better to turn to www.IRS.gov, which has lots of helpful information, or call a tax pro.
Myth 6: The IRS will call or email taxpayers about refunds.
If you've been reading my columns for any length of time, you should know the answer to this one...heck NO! The IRS does NOT call, text, email, use social media or anything like these things to give or request personal and financial information. If anyone does call saying they are from the IRS, it's a scam that needs to be reported.
Further, the agency will NEVER call to demand immediate payment that requires a specific method (such as a prepaid debt card, gift card or wire transfer), threaten to bring in law enforcement, demand tax payments without allowing you time for an appeal, or ask for credit or debit card numbers. It just doesn't happen, so don't fall for it!
So, if you have heard or been wondering about any of the above, now you know and can stop the worry. Better to be concerned about what's causing that annoying slice in your golf game or where the fish are biting. In other words, to quote that great poet, Bobby McFerrin, "don't worry, be happy". Yes, I know, he wasn't the first to say that, but go just go with me here!