DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Some good news on this ‘Good Friday’ for last minute tax filers. The tax deadline has been pushed back to Monday April 18th because of the holiday, but it’s still coming up. Fast.
“I’m the worst of everybody I know,” laughed Jim Mallory in Dallas, picking up his completed taxes from a local preparer. “I think I put it off longer than most.”
Mallory may think he’s the worst, but he’d be wrong. At least he’s finished; millions of Americans have yet to file.
“So first of all, don’t panic,” said Mark Steber, Chief Tax Information Officer for Jackson Hewitt. “Second, be organized.”
Steber says the pandemic has complicated tax returns due to everything from side gigs to advance child tax credit payments, but he warns filers to not expect the IRS to look for missed deductions.
“‘They’ll correct it and they’ll send me the rest of my money.’ No! Wrong. Incorrect. If you leave off a child tax credit, you leave off an earned income credit. If you leave off a deduction for that self-employment… you pay too much.”
In fact, getting any help from the IRS right now is unlikely. In a report to Congress last week, the IRS acknowledged that only about 20% of callers have been getting through to live agents.
“On average, our hold times can range anywhere between 30 and 40 minutes,” admitted Ken Corbin, IRS Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer.
Agency leaders blame budget cuts and COVID-19 disruptions for being severely understaffed. Employee levels are currently the same as they were some 50 years ago. The IRS is promising to bring in contractors to lighten the load, but that likely won’t have an impact until next year.
Still, some important steps can be taken now.
“No matter what happens, do not let the deadline pass,” said Steber. “If you let the deadline pass midnight on the 18th without doing anything, you face a failure to file penalty, failure to pay penalty and perhaps other penalties. So, file something no matter what.”
Before you do, double check for accuracy. Any discrepancies will likely flag your return for review. Filing electronically will significantly speed up your refund if you’ve overpaid, and setting up direct deposit will allow that refund to arrive even faster.
And if all else fails, there’s form 4868.
“It buys you six more months to file your paperwork,” said Steber. “You’re still supposed to pay your taxes, so pay attention to the deadline. [You’ve] still got plenty of time. Plenty of help out there. But it is coming and it’s coming very soon.”