Posts Tagged ‘tax refund’

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$1.6 Billion Down, Only $3.6 Billion to Go:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Taxes on November 25, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , ,

taxfraudTIGTA Reports on Fraudulent Tax Refunds
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released some great news: the IRS issued $3.6 billion in fraudulent tax returns in 2011.

Um. I know, that’s a whopping amount of money that should not have been handed out. But it is a pleasant change of pace from the $5.2 billion reported for tax year 2010 to a $3.6 billion in 2011.

handmoneyDespite the “improvement,” the IRS needs to step up its game and fix lingering problems identified by TIGTA. For example, a handful of tax refunds depositing to the same bank account should be a bright red flag. Apparently the IRS is color blind. But $3.6 billion is a little bit harder to ignore.

identity_theftAnd the agency does seem to lose track of time when it comes to identify theft cases. TIGTA reported that it took the IRS about 312 days to resolve tax-related identity theft cases. That’s like an anniversary… So the million dollar – well, actually billion dollar – question is what will the IRS do about these numbers?

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (562) 806-5805

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2014 Tax Season Start Date Push Back…

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Taxes on November 18, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Early Birds Must Be Patient: Government Closure Pushes Back 2014 Tax Season Start

New Year's Eve ClockThe government shutdown will have a ripple effect into next year. The IRS announced a delay of about one to two weeks to the start of the 2014 filing season. The agency needs the extra time to double-check its tax processing systems since the federal government was M.I.A. for 16 days.

Think government computers should be able to handle anything, no problem? Basically, fifty core IRS systems have to be able to process 150 million tax returns with no glitches. Updating these systems is a really confusing, year-round process with most of the work starting in the fall – in other words, right when the government stopped dead in its tracks.

Calendar 321About 90 percent of IRS operations were closed during the shutdown. Stir in the fact that this year there were already extra programming demands on IRS systems, to provide more refund fraud and identity theft detection and prevention, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for delay. The original start date of the 2014 filing season was Jan. 21. Now the IRS won’t start accepting 2013 individual tax returns until sometime between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4.

MH900339880Sending tax returns via snail mail won’t bypass the delay either: the IRS won’t process paper tax returns before the postponed start date. And there’s no point in doing that since taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file with direct deposit. Looking further down the road, the April 15 tax deadline is set by statute, so that won’t get pushed back even with the late start.

The IRS is up and running after the 16-day downtime and is putting in work to catch up on the 400,000 pieces of paperwork that piled up during the closure. Stir in the 1 million items already being processed before the shutdown, along with the heavy demand on phone lines and walk-in sites, and you’ve got yourself another recipe, this time for a headache. The IRS encourages taxpayers to wait to call or visit if their issue is not urgent, and to use automated applications on IRS.gov. Don’t rush if you don’t have to: set your briefcase down and take a minute to smell the autumnal air before you continue on your busy day.

MH900237191Addendum: And that’s not all that was delayed folks. The PTIN renewal season was supposed to start on October 16, but nothing could happen because the IRS was closed. Luckily the agency got things back on track and the PTIN Renewal Season for 2014 officially began on October 30. That means about 690,000 federal tax return preparers have two months – from now until December 31 – to go online and renew their PTIN’s. Anyone who doesn’t and still wants to make money preparing federal returns, will be out of a job come New Year’s.  

Sufen Wang, M.S. Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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Revisiting IRS Budget Cut…

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Taxes on March 18, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

IRS Practitioner Phone Line Wait Time: First Sign of Services Decline?
 
Back in November, the IRS predicted that reducing its budget would mean trouble for taxpayers and practitioners down the road. Well, now we’re down the road and it looks like the IRS was right. (Ref: Blog: IRS Budget Cut)
 
From January 1 to March 1, IRS’s practitioner priority telephone line serviced only 69.9 percent of calls and the average wait time was 26 minutes. IRS Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson advised callers to “bring your knitting to the phone.” She explained that “There is simply too much work and not enough employees to do the work.” Many practitioners have already noticed an overall increase in tax return processing time and the issuance of tax refunds
 
If problems like this are occurring with only a 0.2% reduction in funding from 2010 to 2011, then just imagine how long the wait time will be when the 2.5% cut in 2012 comes into full effect. On the bright side, at least a lot of sweaters will get knitted.
 
On the Money,
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions

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Undeliverable Refund from the IRS… Really?!

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Taxes on February 1, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

IRS Seeks to Return Undelivered Refund Checks…

Are you missing your refund?  Don’t miss out on your missing money….

The IRS is doing a little year-end cleaning and they want to get rid of your money. Almost 100,000 taxpayers didn’t receive their tax refunds last year due to simple mailing address errors. That means over $153.3 million, or about $1,547 per check, in refund checks had to be sent back to the IRS offices because of scribbled, incorrect, or just plain missing addresses – and are just waiting to be returned.

So if you’re one of those people still asking “Where’s my refund?”, you might find the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov very useful (or call 1-800-829-1954). You can check the status of that mysteriously absent check and find instructions on how to resolve any delivery problems. These are the only ways to find out about your pending refund, so don’t be fooled by e-mails that look like they are sent by the IRS. Those messages are phishing scams and your computer will be grateful if you don’t open the attachments or click on any suspicious links. 
 
A word of advice on future filings, you really should just choose direct deposit when you file your return and completely avoid the hassle of lost, stolen, and undelivered checks. You can receive the tax refund directly into your bank account, divvy it up between two or three financial accounts, or even buy a savings bond! You might as well go digital all the way and file your tax return electronically, so that you don’t have to go all the way to the post office. The IRS also recommends e-file because it eliminates the risk of lost paper returns, reduces errors on tax returns, and speeds up refunds. This is particularly useful for taxpayers who can’t even read their own handwriting; well, maybe they can, while the IRS Revenue Agent has to guess what those numbers really are on their returns.
 
The IRS knows best when it comes to tax returns, so listen to its recommendation and use e-file and direct deposit to avoid future delivery problems. You can also literally listen to the IRS’ Undeliverable Refund Podcast for more information or check out the agency’s Undeliverable Refund Video.

 
On the Money
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions
 

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A Perfect Match:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Taxes on January 16, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , ,

What to Look for in a Tax Return Preparer

It’s already that special time of the year, folks: people are getting ready for tax returns. You might be tempted to forget about filing because you plan on having a professional do it for you. But how do you know that you’ll find the right person for the job? After all, as the taxpayer, you are legally responsible for everything written on your tax return – even if you don’t prepare it. Here are some tips to keep in mind so that you can ensure your paperwork ends up in good hands. 
 
First and foremost, the preparer MUST have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) – otherwise he won’t be able to sign your return and enter this number, which is now required for all paid preparers. Once you have his official digits, you’ll want to dig a little deeper. Steer clear of any individual who has had a particularly unpleasant relationship with the Better Business Bureau or a bad record with the State Boards of Accountancy for certified public accountants, State Bar Associations for attorneys, etc.  You get the drift?!
 
You’re obviously going to be charged for the preparer’s services, but how you pay is crucial. Avoid anyone who bases their fee on a percentage of your refund.  Or take your business elsewhere if the preparer tells you that your refund will go into his bank account first, and he will then write you a check, after deducting his fees. Your tax refund is your money and should be deposited directly into an account in your name.  You should pay your tax preparer separately for his services. 
 
How you file is also important. The IRS is pushing for e-file because it’s faster and safer, and your preparer should at least make this option available to you.  And if you choose not to e-file, then be sure to read my last week’s blog, Hello E-File!, as a reference to understand your responsibility in this process.
 
The tax preparer needs to be easily accessible to you, both by telephone and in-person. You don’t want to show up a few days before your returns are due and find a “Gone Fishing” sign on the door. You also don’t want your preparer to mysteriously leave town (with all of your personal information) after the return has been filed, so make sure you will be able to contact him for future questions.
 
Once you chose a preparer, you still need to keep your eyes open for any signs of bad business practices. A good preparer will ask you tons of questions to double-check your financial information, and should also request all of the necessary records and receipts. Think about it: how can someone accurately file your return if they don’t have the required documents, or a full understanding of your financial detail? 
 
Returns are like checks – never sign a blank one. That means you need to review the completed return in its entirety before signing it. Ask your preparer any questions you may have, because if something is incorrect, you’re the one who will have to deal with it later. So, ask questions, and do no stop until you get satisfactory answers from your preparer.  Finally, once the preparer has signed your return and included his PTIN, don’t walk out of the office until you have a hard copy in hand. Tax preparers are supposed to make things easier for taxpayers. Don’t let one get off easy if he tries to swindle you: report abusive tax preparers with Form 14157, available on www.irs.gov.
 
On the Money
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions

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Counting on Your Tax Refund to Pay for Tax Preparation?

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Taxes on July 9, 2011 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , ,

Prepare to Be Disappointed…

Out of sight, out of mind is not always a good idea – at least when it comes to paying for your tax preparation. The IRS seems to agree. David Williams, the director of the IRS return preparer office, announced on June 28 that the Service would not pursue the option of allowing taxpayers to use a portion of their tax refund to pay for tax preparation services.

The concept was originally proposed last year and would have offered taxpayers an alternative to extra number-crunching and out-of-pocket expenses during the already-stressful tax season. However, “Since then, the IRS has conducted outreach to numerous parties, including consumer advocates and industry groups,” Williams said. “During that outreach, the IRS heard a variety of views, some supporting this additional option for consumers, with others raising operational and/or policy concerns.”

Consumer groups especially opposed the idea because “predatory tax preparers” might take advantage of the fact that a taxpayer’s refund is not as visible or accessible once it has been turned over to the preparer. They could then charge more for tax preparation without their client’s knowledge.

The Service’s decision to reject the option won’t do anything to help the headaches that arrive during tax-preparation time. On the other hand, at least taxpayers won’t have to worry about their preparers taking more than their fair share.

Just remember that tax preparation costs money, any way you look at it, and sometimes it’s best not to delay the inevitable.

On the Money,
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions

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Show Me the Money: When Will I Get My Tax Refund?

In Taxes on April 26, 2011 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , ,

Money

Another Tax Day has come and gone, and you’ve survived. Whether you filed your taxes the second you got all of the necessary documents or at 11:59pm on April 18th, you’re probably all asking the same question:

“Where’s my tax refund?”

Well, if you filed your taxes online this year, the IRS has a handy-dandy refund chart that can show you when your refund will be processed.

refund cycle chart 2011

For example, if you e-filed your taxes and they were accepted by the IRS on March 15th (I’m going to assume that you were all good boys and girls and filed early this year), then you should either have gotten a direct deposit on March 25th or a check was processed and mailed out to you on April 1st (no joke).

If you check the chart and your refund should have gotten to you by now, you can head over to the IRS website to check your refund status. Be sure to have your 2011 tax return handy so that you can enter the necessary information to get your refund status. You can also call the IRS Refund Hotline at 1-800-829-1954, or the IRS TeleTax system at 1-800-829-4477.

Once you find out the status of your refund, you can proceed from there.

Just don’t spend it all in one place, now.

On the Money,
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions