Delayed tax refunds, penalties for not filing 2020 tax returns on time that were actually filed on time, and timely tax payments being flagged as late are just some of the headaches taxpayers are grappling with due to a massive backlog of several million unprocessed tax returns the IRS is trying to wade out from under. Here’s how to avoid getting your tax refund delayed and steer clear from late-filing and payment penalties resulting from the IRS backlog:
What you need to know
- E-file your return! The secret to getting a quick tax refund is to e-file your 2021 tax return! The IRS says approximately 90% of the more than 160 million individual tax returns expected for the 2021 tax year will be e-filed. The majority of these taxpayers will avoid any issues filing their return and getting their refund. If you do e-file, don’t forget to sign Form 8879, which authorizes the e-filing of your return.
- Stay calm if you receive a letter from the IRS. You may receive an IRS notice indicating you have an unfiled tax return or that you have an unpaid balance on your account. If the notice was mailed because of the backlog and you indeed filed the tax return in question or paid the amount due listed, the IRS says there is no need to call or respond to the notice as it’s continuing to process prior year tax returns as quickly as possible.
- Certified mail is your friend. If you receive an IRS notice for a situation not related to the backlog, you’ll want to respond in a timely fashion via certified mail. This will provide proof of your timely correspondence. So even if your response gets lost or caught up in the backlog, you’ll have evidence that you responded by the deadline listed on the notice. Remember that delays in responses could generate penalties and additional interest payments.
- Be patient if you need to talk with the IRS. The IRS received a record 282 million phone calls during its 2021 fiscal year, according to National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins. Only 32 million of these calls were answered. Collins said the best time to call the IRS are Wednesdays through Fridays, especially early mornings starting at 7 am Eastern time.