Government Shutdown Could Delay Tax Refunds

If Congress can not come to an agreement by midnight Friday the Government will shut down temporarily.

Keep in mind the shutdown, if it happens, will NOT DELAY the due date for taxes of April 18th, 2011!

According to Bloomberg, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman in a statement made a week ago (3/31).
“We’ve never had a government shutdown in the middle of the filing season before,” Shulman said in testimony before a House Ways and Means subcommittee in Washington. “The closer we get to April 15, the more consideration and factors are at play.”

People who file electronically and opt to receive their returns electronically “should expect to see refunds quickly,” Shulman said on Tuesday.

Tax returns using e-file are automated so if your tax return doesn’t need any special handling and you use the direct deposit option you could receive your tax refund on time. However, if you file a paper return, you are expecting a paper check or your tax return needs special handling (Injured Spouse, Offsets, etc.) expect them to be delayed!

The length of the delay, if any, will depend on how long it takes Congress to agree so that ‘nonessential’ federal employees could return to work.

Approximately 70% of tax returns are now filed electronically.

Tax returns filed with paper generally take six to eight weeks to process, while e-file returns generally take seven to ten days or so.

10 Things You Should Know About Tax Refunds

Are you expecting a refund from the IRS this year?

The average tax refund stands at just a hair under three thousand dollars. At this time last year, the average was a little over that amount, sitting at $3,030 (the average for last year would later fall to $2,803 as later filers were accounted for).

In previous years, the average tax refund has been in the same range, with the average peaking for the 2009 tax year before slipping:

  • Average 2012 Refund: $2,803
  • Average 2011 Refund: $2,913
  • Average 2010 Refund: $3,003
  • Average 2009 Refund: $3,036
  • Average 2008 Refund: $2,728
  • Average 2007 Refund: $2,699

 

10 Things You Should Know About Tax Refunds

Here are the top ten things you should know about your tax refund.

  • Refund Options You have two options for receiving your individual federal income tax refund: a paper check or a direct deposit.
  • Separate Accounts You may use Form 8888, Direct Deposit of Refund to More Than One Account, to request that your refund be allocated by direct deposit among up to three separate accounts, such as checking or savings or retirement accounts.
  • Paper Return Processing Time If you file a complete and accurate paper tax return, your refund will usually be issued within six weeks from the received date.
  • Returns Filed Electronically If you filed electronically, your refund will normally be issued within three weeks after the acknowledgment date.
  • Check the Status Online The fastest and easiest way to find out about your current year refund is to go to the IRS.gov Web site and click on the “Where’s My Refund?” link available from the home page. You will need your Social Security number, filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund to check the status online.
  • Check the Status By Phone Call the IRS Refund Hotline at 800-829–1954. When you call, you will need to provide your Social Security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of the refund shown on your return.
  • Delayed Refund There are several reasons for delayed refunds. For things that may delay the processing of your return, refer to Tax Topic 303 on IRS.gov, which includes a Checklist of Common Errors When Preparing Your Tax Return.
  • Larger than Expected Refund If you receive a refund to which you are not entitled, or one for an amount that is more than you expected, do not cash the check until you receive a notice explaining the difference. Follow the instructions on the notice.
  • Smaller than Expected Refund If you receive a refund for a smaller amount than you expected, you may cash the check, and, if it is determined that you should have received more, you will later receive a check for the difference. If you did not receive a notice and you have questions about the amount of your refund, wait two weeks after receiving the refund, then call 800–829–1040.
  • Missing Refund The IRS will assist you in obtaining a replacement check for a refund check that is verified as lost or stolen. If the IRS was unable to deliver your refund because you moved, you can change your address online. Once your address has been changed, the IRS can reissue the undelivered check. For more information, visit IRS.gov or call 800-829-1040.

 

IRS Seeks to Return $266 Million in Undeliverable Refunds And Economic Stimulus Payments to Taxpayers

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is looking for taxpayers who are missing more than 279,000 economic stimulus checks totaling about $163 million and more than 104,000 regular refund checks totaling about $103 million that were returned by the U.S. Postal Service due to mailing address errors.

“People across the country are missing tax refunds and stimulus checks. We want to get this money into the hands of taxpayers where it belongs,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We are committed to making the process as easy as possible for taxpayers to update their addresses with the IRS and get their checks.”

IRS Seeks to Return $266 Million in Undeliverable Refunds And Economic Stimulus Payments to Taxpayers

All a taxpayer has to do is update his or her address once. The IRS will then send out all checks due.

Stimulus Checks

It is crucial that taxpayers who may be due a stimulus check update their addresses with the IRS by Nov. 28, 2008. By law, economic stimulus checks must be sent out by Dec. 31 of this year. The undeliverable economic stimulus checks average $583.

The “Where’s My Stimulus Payment?” tool on this Web site is the quickest and easiest way for a taxpayer to check the status of a stimulus check and receive instructions on how to update his or her address. Taxpayers without internet access should call 1-866-234-2942.

Regular Refunds

The regular refund checks that were returned to the IRS average $988. These checks are resent as soon as taxpayers update their address.

Taxpayers can update their addresses with the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on this Web site. It enables taxpayers to check the status of their refunds. A taxpayer must submit his or her social security number, filing status and amount of refund shown on their 2007 return. The tool will provide the status of their refund and in some cases provide instructions on how to resolve delivery problems.

Taxpayers checking on a refund over the phone will be given instructions on how to update their addresses. Taxpayers can access a telephone version of “Where’s My Refund?” by calling 1-800-829-1954.

Unsure?

Taxpayers not sure of which type of check they may be due should check on a potential economic stimulus check first because of the looming deadline. See instructions above.

For Most People

The vast majority of checks mailed out by the IRS reach their rightful owner every year. Only a very small percent are returned by the U.S. Postal Service as undeliverable.

Through September 2008, the government distributed 116 million economic stimulus payments with only about 279,000 checks being undeliverable. Meanwhile, the IRS has distributed more than 105 million regular refunds this year with only about 104,000 being undeliverable. In both cases, well under one percent of refunds or stimulus checks were undeliverable.

Avoiding Future Problems

The IRS encourages taxpayers to choose direct deposit when they file their return because it puts an end to lost, stolen or undeliverable checks. Taxpayers can receive refunds directly into personal checking or savings accounts. Direct deposit is available for filers of both paper and electronic returns.

The IRS also encourages taxpayers to file their tax returns electronically because e-file eliminates the risk of lost paper returns. E-file also reduces errors and speeds up refunds.

Tax News for November 2007

Honda Hybrid Begins Phase-Out on January 1
IR-2007-191, Nov. 19, 2007 — The IRS announced today that American Honda Motor Company, Inc, has submitted quarterly reports indicating that its cumulative sales of qualified vehicles to retail dealers reached the 60,000-vehicle limit during the calendar quarter ending Sept. 30, 2007.

IRS Reminds Charities and Churches of Political Activity Ban
IR-2007-190, Nov. 19, 2007 — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded section 501(c)(3) organizations, including charities and churches that federal law prohibits them from becoming directly or indirectly involved in campaigns of political candidates.

IRS Has $110 Million in Refund Checks Looking for a Home
IR-2007-189, Nov. 14, 2007 — Each check is worth $953, on average.

2008 Nissan Altima Certified as Qualified Hybrid Vehicle
IR-2007-188, Nov. 13, 2007 — The IRS has acknowledged the certification by Nissan North America, Inc., that its 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid vehicle meets the requirements of the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit as a qualified hybrid motor vehicle.

Plan Now to Get Full Benefit of Saver’s Credit; Tax Break Helps Low- and Moderate-Income Workers Save for Retirement
IR-2007-187, Nov. 9, 2007 — The saver’s credit is an added bonus for many eligible workers who contribute to retirement plans. Like other tax credits, the saver’s credit can increase a taxpayer’s refund or reduce the amount of taxes owed.

2008 Hybrids Certified As Tax Credit For Toyota and Lexus Comes to an End
IR-2007-186, Nov. 8, 2007 — The IRS acknowledged the certification by Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc., that several of its Model Year 2008 vehicles qualify for the hybrid vehicle tax credit. Only vehicles purchased prior to Oct. 1, 2007, qualify for a credit.

Another Record-Breaking Number of Taxpayers Choose to Electronically File in 2007
IR-2007-185, Nov. 7, 2007 — The IRS this year received nearly 80 million tax returns through e-file, breaking the record set last year.

IRS and States to Share Employment Tax Examination Results
IR-2007-184, Nov. 6, 2007 — Officials from the IRS and more than two dozen state workforce agencies have entered into agreements to share the results of employment tax examinations.

IRS Warns of E-mail Scam Soliciting Donations to California Wildfire Victims
IR-2007-183, Nov. 2, 2007 — Don’t be fooled by a scam e-mail that appears to be a solication from the IRS for donations to victims of the recent California wildfires.

IRS Announces New Chinese, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese Tax Glossaries to Assist Taxpayers
IR-2007-182, Nov. 2, 2007 — Five new publications will meet growing demand for non-English language tax information.

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