Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tax Season - sorta

I can't really work until the new tax software arrives. It's updated every year, at a minimum, to account for inflation adjustments to standard deductions and various phaseouts, and changes in mileage allowances, etc. Congress will often enact tax law, usually late in the year, which requires additional programming that must be substantially completed before the software can be delivered. (Updates are made throughout the tax filing season.) This year, the changes are drastic, requiring all new tax forms and schedules.

This means my workload around the Holidays is somewhere between nil and something I can do before my coffee gets cold. All I can do is get ready because once the tax software arrives, it's time to get to work.

The tax software arrived last Friday. Yippee!

As far as the IRS is concerned, however, Tax Season doesn't start until January 28th and that's if they can get anyone to show up for work. While the IRS doesn't usually process refunds during a government shutdown, this year they say they will. This means they will be recalling furloughed workers who will not be paid until the shutdown ends. The IRS expects to have enough employees to answer 60-70% of phone calls from taxpayers needing help.

You can prepare your taxes but no one will care for another three weeks. And then, the IRS will care about 65%.

This is news. Just a week before, the IRS's contingency plan for a governmental shutdown did not allow for the processing of refunds although taxes owed would still be due. Phone calls would not be answered and amended returns from prior years would not be processed. The contingency plan has now been updated to include refunds although no one is exactly sure how that will happen. I still haven't received my refund for the 2017 tax year and that's not bound to be fixed anytime soon.

People who are expecting refunds usually file early and while tax preparers now have the software to prepare 2018 tax returns, the IRS won't accept them before January 28th. On the other hand, people who owe generally file later; whether they file an extension or not, taxes are due April 15th.

Unless it's April 17th.

How can you not get excited about this stuff?

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