IRS Warns Y2K Woes Could Delay Refund Check

One day, Tax Commissioner Rossotti,
While munching his favorite biscotti,
Declared to his crew,
I'

ve got bad news for you:
Our Y2K system is spotty!

The evidence here on the table
Suggests our PCs are unstable.
We may have to hold
The

refunds, I'm told,
We'll

only write checks if we're able.

A hush fell upon the tax crew
As their boss just continued to chew.
Their fear made them grieve
As they tried to conceive
Of the chaos about to ensue.

The image that pressed in their minds
Was of taxpayers forming great lines,
Screaming for cash
Ready to slash
The

nearest tax agent's behind.

But Rossotti was totally cool.
He

said, 'What we need is a tool,
A way to assuage
And perform tax triage
So

the taxpayers know we're not fools.

The taxpayers may go ballistic
If

we don't get somewhat artistic.
So tell them a tale:
Your

check's in the mail.
Surely that nonsense sounds realistic.

The IRS has announced that the possibility exists of some 'trouble spots'with regard to processing 1999 tax returns due to the effects of the Y2K bug on their computers.

Although the Service has been working diligently (in between morning breaks, afternoon breaks, smoking breaks, sick time, vacation time, Federal holidays, family leave days, and personal days, just like any good government agency) toward the 12/31/99 deadline for making their electronic equipment Y2K compatible, there is a chance that refunds for 1999 tax returns may not be processed in the timely fashion to which many taxpayers have become accustomed.

For the most part, the IRS appears to be confident that its computers will be up to the task of processing a hundred million or so tax returns in the three and a half months between January 1 and April 15'However, it has been suggested that if any part of the tax processing fails, it will be the part that involves sending out refunds to taxpayers.

The IRS would like to apologize in advance to any taxpayers who have to wait an extra long time for refund checks next year, and they're sure everyone will understand that it is just a mix-up with this silly Y2K bug.

By the same token, I'm sure that if you owe money when you send your tax return, and you are unable to send your money by April 15, the IRS will be gracious and understanding if you explain that your bank funds are inaccessible due to the Y2K bug.

Getting Serious for a Moment

All joking aside, if you are expecting a sizeable refund and you have a serious concern about receiving this refund in a timely fashion after the first of the year, there are some remedies that you can consider.

One alternative, and probably the best one, is to file your tax return as early as possible'The blank 1999 tax forms are typically mailed in late December, and I'm sure this year will be no different'The last thing the IRS needs is to wait until after December 31 to mail the tax forms, then have over 100,000 tax forms get lost in the mail if the Post Office has Y2K problems of its own (although the Post Office claims it has all of its problems under control, and since this isn't a Fun with the Post Office column, I'm going to leave that one alone).

The earlier you mail your tax return, the quicker the IRS can get your refund back to you'The closer you get to April 15, the more bogged down the IRS gets and, even in a good year, refunds take longer to process.

If you absolutely can't risk having your refund delayed in early 1999, here's another method for making sure you get the money that is rightfully yours'Figure out now what your taxes are going to be for 1999'Estimate this amount as accurately as possible, determine how much tax money you will have had withheld by the end of the year, and calculate what your anticipated refund will be.

Then, sit down with the payroll person at your workplace and fill out a new W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance form'On this form, adjust your withholding so that less tax is withheld between now and the end of the year, thus generating your own refund in the last two months of the year'Be sure to fill out a new form right after the first of the year, returning your withholding for the year 2000 to a safe level.

You can get the 1999 tax forms, including the 1040 and Form W-4, and 1999 tax tables from the IRS web site (still functioning at least for now) at www.irs.gov'If you don't have a computer, try the computer at your public library or ask a computerized friend'Right now the IRS isn't mailing any 1999 tax forms.

copyright © 2000 Gail Perry - Fun with Taxes

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