WASHINGTON (AP) — Millions of Americans wait until the last minute to file their taxes, and this year is no exception.
Monday is Tax Day, the federal deadline for individual tax filing and payments, and the IRS will receive tens of millions of last-minute filings electronically and through paper forms.
As of April 8, the IRS had received more than 103 million returns for this tax season and had issued more than 63 million refunds worth more than $204 billion.
For comparison, last year, more than 169 million people filed a tax return by the end of the year. That likely leaves nearly 40 percent of this year’s taxpayers still unaccounted for, with many scrambling to file their documents before Monday.
Nina Tross of the National Society of Tax Professionals says that if people haven’t filed their taxes yet, “they’re better off filing an extension.”
But, he added, “people don’t realize that filing an extension has no effect” as long as they paid their income taxes before Tax Day.
“An extension is simply filing a return at a later date,” Tross said. “If you rush to file a return out the door, and have to amend it later, you’re more likely to get double-checked by the IRS.”
“It is much better to extend than to modify,” he said.
The IRS this year is facing its longest delay in history. 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.
And some forms are reviewed by IRS employees and treated as if they were filed on paper, even if they are filed electronically.
This year will be one of the most challenging for the agency, with its record low staffing. The IRS workforce is the same size as it was in 1970, even though the US population has grown exponentially and the tax laws have become increasingly complicated.
The agency announced plans in March to hire at least 10,000 more workers.
Lisa Greene-Lewis, a CPA and spokeswoman for TurboTax, said that if people still intend to file before Tax Day, “I would gather all your documents in one place so you don’t forget anything, like W2 and 1099. ”
Important documents like “Letter 6419” outlining the Child Tax Credit payments a taxpayer should have received this year and “Letter 6475” for stimulus payments should also be available.
Greene-Lewis, who has been doing taxes for more than 20 years, said “you want to report the correct amount that you received so you don’t have to make adjustments to your refund.”
The IRS has posted useful last-minute information and links for taxpayers, emphasizing that “taxpayers should take care to file a complete and accurate tax return. If a statement includes errors or is incomplete, it may require additional review.
Keith Kahn of the Delaware CPA Society 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 away. But for those who can get an appointment, “make sure you have everything you could possibly provide to your CPA—there’s not a lot of time to strategize or ask questions.”
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