With about a month left until the April 15th deadline, everyone is scrambling to get together every document mailed to them that may seem important and useful when filing their taxes. Taxpayers have already been warned by the IRS that tax returns may be delayed this year due to budget cuts and staff reductions. This more likely than not means fewer customer service representatives to answer questions, which people are sure to have since the budget cuts and staff reductions are not the only factors to blame for delays. The lack of customer service availability, along with increasing identity theft occurrences and confusing new tax requirements under the Affordable Care Act, may also make for an unpleasant tax filing season.
“You’re going to need to be patient,” says Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate. The budget cuts and staff reduction have left the IRS struggling to stay ahead this tax season. There will definitely be a shortage of representatives to answer questions. Increasing identity theft by criminals who use other people’s social security numbers to file fictitious returns in order to get a refund is on the rise this year. Big companies like JPMorgan Chase and other banks were breached and confidential client information was stolen, which affected roughly 76 million households. TurboTax temporarily halted all state filings earlier this year after several state revenue departments complained to their state attorneys of the high possibility of filing fraud. They shortly resumed filings after stating that they found no evidence that customers’ Turbo Tax credentials had been stolen from their database. This, however, causes a trickle-down effect causing state revenue departments to take a closer and more rigorous look at filings, delaying the process even more.
If your head is spinning with all of these predicted inconveniences that may make filing your tax return a bigger headache this year, you are not alone. Mine is spinning and most of this doesn’t even apply to me. The IRS predicted that they will only be able to answer half of the number of calls they are expecting to get, which soars to the 100 million mark. Just expect it to be sort of like calling the Registry of Motor Vehicles – I’ve been calling them for the past 3 weeks trying to get them to send me the license they keep insisting is arriving to me any minute now, and every time it’s a 30 minute hold. The good news is that unlike last year, there is no government shutdown to add to the long list of potential headaches and delays.