On tax day, an extension may be better than a rushed declaration

WASHINGTON (AP) — Monday is Tax Day — the federal deadline for personal tax filing and payments — and the IRS expects to receive tens of millions of last-minute returns by electronically and via paper forms.

As of April 8, the IRS has received more than 103 million returns for this tax season and issued more than 63 million refunds worth more than $204 billion.

By comparison, last year more than 169 million people filed a tax return before the end of the year. That likely leaves nearly 40% of this year’s taxpayers still missing, with many scrambling to submit their documents by Monday.

Nina Tross, executive director of the National Society of Tax Professionals, said if people haven’t filed their taxes yet, “they better file an extension.”

But, she added, “people don’t realize that filing for an extension has no effect” until they’ve paid their income taxes before tax day.

“An extension is simply filing a return at a later date,” Tross said. “If you rush into a return to get it out, and have to change it later, you’re more likely to get a double look from the IRS.”

“You’re much better off extending than amending,” she said.

The IRS faces its largest backlog in history this year. At the end of the 2021 filing season, the agency had 35.3 million returns awaiting processing. One reason is that every paper document that enters the IRS is processed by a human, according to the IRS.

Another is that the agency has administered massive relief programs related to the coronavirus pandemic in recent years, such as the Advanced Child Tax Credit.

And some forms are reviewed by IRS employees and treated as if they were submitted on paper, even though they are filed electronically.

This year will be one of the most difficult for the agency, with its record workforce. The IRS workforce is the same as it was in 1970, although the US population has grown exponentially and tax laws have become increasingly complicated.

Lisa Greene-Lewis, CPA and spokesperson for TurboTax, said if people were still planning on filing before tax day, “I’d put all your paperwork in one place so I wouldn’t forget nothing, like W -2s and 1099s.

Important documents such as “Letter 6419” which outlines child tax credit payments a taxpayer should have received this year and “Letter 6475” for stimulus payments should also be on hand.

Greene-Lewis, who has been doing taxes for more than 20 years, said “you want to report the exact amount you received so you don’t have to adjust your refund.”

Although the agency announced plans in March to hire at least 10,000 more workers to help process returns, administration officials say the IRS desperately needs more funding because its budget has grown. dropped over the past decade.

In a call with reporters, a senior Treasury official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the IRS backlog could be resolved with higher funding levels, the IRS budget. IRS having fallen by more than 15% in real terms.

The IRS has released helpful information and links for last-minute filers, emphasizing that “taxpayers should be careful to file a complete and accurate tax return. If a return contains errors or is incomplete, it may require further review.

Keith Kahn, director/president of the Delaware Society of CPAs, said he encourages everyone to file electronically.

When asked if CPAs would accept clients on Tax Day, Kahn said it’s common for people to be turned down. But for those who can get an appointment, “make sure you have everything you can provide for your CPA — there’s not a lot of time to strategize or ask questions.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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