Monday, January 28th marks the beginning of the electronic tax return filing season which will continue until April 15th for Iowans this year. Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15th in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16th in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17, 2019 to file their tax returns.
Despite the government shutdown, Congress directed the payment of all tax refunds through a permanent, indefinite appropriation (31 U.S.C. 1324), and the IRS has consistently been of the view that it has authority to pay refunds despite a lapse in annual appropriations.
IRS employees have been hard at work over the past year to implement the biggest tax law changes the nation has seen in more than 30 years.
Over 155 million individual tax returns are expected to be filed in 2019. The IRS expects 4 out of 5 tax returns will be prepared electronically using tax software and anticipates issuing more than 90% of refunds in fewer than 21 days. To receive your refund in the fastest and safest way, the IRS recommends choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds.
Here are a few tax preparation tips:
- To help prevent identity theft the IRS recommends filing early in the tax season.
- Visit the IRS website (irs.gov). The IRS website is full of valuable information.
- Gather all important tax documents using documents collected last year as a guide. Effective in 2018 with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the standard deduction has almost doubled, to $12,000 for single filers or $24,000 for married filing joint filers (up from $6,350 for single filers and $12,700 for married filing joint filers in 2017), likely decreasing the number of taxpayers who use itemized deductions. All taxpayers must save their tax documents for at least three years. A few important documents include:
- 1099s (miscellaneous income, interest, dividends, certain government payments, distributions from pensions, annuities, retirements, etc.)
- Form 1098 – Mortgage Interest
- Vehicle registration fees paid in 2018 and state sales tax paid on cars purchased in 2018
- Receipts and other proof of charitable contributions made in 2018
- Review your return for errors. Check spelling on names, social security numbers, math, and inputs on line items.
- Sign and date your return (along with your spouse, if applicable).
- Consult your tax professional for help.
All taxpayers should continue to watch out for identity theft scams by people pretending to be IRS representatives through email or phone communications.
Remember, the IRS will never:
- Demand immediate payment without first having mailed the taxpayer an explanation of additional tax due.
- Demand that the taxpayer pay taxes without giving them the opportunity to question or appeal the amount said to be owed.
- Require a specific payment method to be used to pay tax owed.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
Finally, don’t forget about filing your Iowa individual income tax return, which is due April 30th, 2019! Iowans can again likely expect longer wait times for refunds as the Iowa Department of Revenue doubles down on fraud prevention efforts that significantly delay the processing of income tax refunds.
This information is provided for informational purposes and is not intended to substitute professional advice.