As tax season started on January 24, the Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers of a few important things they should remember when filing their federal income taxes this year. Due to the pandemic and other unique challenges this tax season, the IRS has made a 5-point checklist that can help many people speed up the processing of their tax returns and get their refunds faster.
1. Ensure you fill out your tax return correctly and then use e-file and direct deposit to avoid delays.
As soon as they have all they need to document an accurate tax return, taxpayers should file electronically and choose direct deposit. Taxpayers have many options, one of which is to use a trusted tax professional. When people use e-file, the software does the math for them to help them avoid making mistakes. It uses a question-and-answer format to walk people through each part of their tax return.
2. Before filing a tax return, ensure that all the necessary documents and the information about the stimulus payment and progress Child Tax Credit are correct.
People must also have their advance Child Tax Credit and Economic Impact Payment information when they file. This is in addition to W-2s, Form 1099s, and other income-related documents.
Advance CTC letter 6419: People who got advance CTC payments started getting letters from the IRS at the end of December 2021 and through January. Near the top of the letter, it says 2021 Total Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) Payments, and on the bottom right side of the page, it says Letter 6419. People must know the following:
● The letter has important details to help ensure the tax return is correct.
● People who got advance CTC payments also can check how much they got by going to IRS.gov and looking at their Online Accounts.
● Eligible people who have already received advance payments of the Child Tax Credit should file a tax return in 2021 to get the second half of the credit. People eligible for the Child Tax Credit but did not get advance payments can get the full credit by submitting a tax return.
● Third Economic Effect Payment letter 6475: People who got the third payment in 2021 will start getting letters from the IRS at the end of January 2022. Near the top of the letter, Your Third Economic Impact Payment. At the bottom right of the page, Letter 6475. Individuals must be aware of the following:
● Most people who were supposed to get stimulus payments have already gotten them. This letter will help people determine if they can get the Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) for lost stimulus payments.
● People who qualify for RRC must file taxes in 2021 to get the rest of their stimulus money.
● People can also check their Economic Effect Payment amounts through their online IRS account.
Both letters, 6419 and 6475, have important information to correctly help people fill out their tax returns for 2021. If a return has mistakes or isn't complete, the IRS may need to look at it again while they fix the mistake, which could slow down the tax refund. Using this information to prepare an electronic tax return can reduce mistakes and prevent the process from taking too long.
3. Don't wait on the phone for a long time; use the Internet before trying to call the IRS.
The number of calls to the IRS help lines is still high. People should use IRS.gov to find answers to tax questions, check the status of a tax refund, or pay taxes to avoid long wait times. There are tools and resources online that can be used at any time. Also, the IRS gives taxpayers several ways to keep up with important tax information:
● Follow the IRS on social media and sign up for their email lists to find out about the latest tax news and alerts.
● Download the IRS2Go app, watch IRS videos on YouTube, or obey the IRS on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to learn about the latest tax changes, scam notifications, initiatives, products, and services.
● People can also obtain information in the language they prefer. The IRS translates tax information into many languages, and basic tax information is now available in 20 languages. People can also fill out Schedule LEP, Ask for Change in Language Preference, to get written communication systems from the IRS in their language of choice.
4. Waiting for your tax return for 2020 to be processed? Special hint for e-filing your 2022 tax return:
Taxpayers need their Current Gross Income, or AGI, from their most recent tax return for the IRS to accept and process their electronically filed tax return. If you are waiting for the IRS to process your 2020 tax return, here is a special tip to make sure the IRS will accept the return. On your 2021 tax return, make sure to put $0 for last year's AGI.
Those who used a Non-Filer tool in 2021 to sign up for an advance Child Tax Credit or third Economic Effect Payment in 2021 should put $1 as their prior year AGI. The rest of the people should submit their AGI from last year's tax return. Remember that this field will automatically fill in if you use the same tax software as last year.
5. Taxpayers can use free resources to help them file their taxes.
In this hard year, the IRS wants to remind taxpayers that there are many free ways to get help, including many resources on IRS.gov. IRS Free File is an option for people who don't want to wait for a paper tax return. As part of a 20-year deal with the IRS, the best tax software companies give away their online products for free through Free File.
This year, there are eight English-language products and two Spanish-language products. Anyone or any family who made less than $73,000 in 2021 can use IRS Free File. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free, one-on-one tax help to people who qualify all over the country.