You’re well into busy season, and we’re guessing you probably don’t have a lot of time to handle clients’ unsubstantiated worries about their tax returns.
Here’s what the IRS considers the most prevalent tax-filing myths and what clients should know about them. And you can tell them to take a chill pill.
Myth 1: All refunds are delayed.
They aren’t, and most taxpayers get their refunds in less than three weeks. It’s even faster if taxpayers use electronic filing and direct deposit, according to the IRS. By law, the agency can’t issue refunds for returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The IRS began processing tax returns Jan. 29.
Still, some returns take longer to process for several reasons. For one, the IRS and its Security Summit partners are strengthening security reviews to thwart fraudsters.
Myth 2: Delayed refunds, those claiming EITC and/or ACTC will be sent Feb. 15.
Just because the IRS can’t issue refunds that include these credits before mid-February doesn’t mean taxpayers will get those refunds in mid-February. Schedule Feb. 27 instead for taxpayers who opted for direct deposit with problem-free returns.
Myth 3: Order a tax transcript to find out a refund date.
Nice try, but… nope. According to the IRS, the transcript information doesn’t necessarily indicate the refund amount or when it will be received. Clients can use a transcript to validate past income and tax-filing status for mortgage, and student and small-business loan applications, but they should use the agency’s “Where’s my Refund?” to check on their refund status.
Myth 4: A call to the IRS or tax preparer will reveal a refund date.
Are you gritting your teeth yet? Again, clients should go to “Where’s My Refund” at IRS.gov or use the IRS2Go mobile app. Refund status is updated once a day, typically overnight. “Where’s my refund” has the same info that the IRS phone reps do.
Myth 5: Call the IRS.
If clients ever tried this, they probably can skip this one because they know it’s pretty much hopeless. IRS.gov has a lot of information that can help.
Myth 6: The IRS will call or email taxpayers about refunds.
An emphatic NO on this one. By now, clients should know that the IRS does NOT call, text, email or use social media to give or request personal and financial information. If anyone does call saying they are from the IRS, clients should know that they are being scammed and should report the incident.
The agency will never call to demand immediate payment that requires a specific method, such as a prepaid debt card, gift card or wire transfer; threaten to bring in the cops; demand tax payments without allowing the taxpayer time for an appeal; or ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
About Terry Sheridan
Terry Sheridan is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate, mortgage finance, health care, insurance, personal finance, and accounting and taxation issues for newspapers, magazines, and websites. A Chicago native and former South Florida resident, she now lives in New England.