With the surge of tax returns expected during the upcoming Presidents Day weekend, the Internal Revenue Service is offering taxpayers several tips and various time-saving resources to get them the help they need from the IRS quickly and easily.
The IRS receives more phone calls on the day after Presidents Day than on any other day of the year. This year, that’s Tuesday, Feb. 20. So, ahead of the Presidents Day weekend, the IRS is reminding taxpayers to “Avoid the Rush,” detailing online options taxpayers and tax professionals can use to get information quickly to avoid busy signals and long wait times on the IRS toll-free hotline.
Nearly every tax issue can be resolved from the convenience of a home or office. Here are a few topics to be featured in next week’s campaign:
- Use IRS.gov to find answers to tax questions – The IRS offers a variety of online tools to help taxpayers answer common tax questions. For example, taxpayers can search the Interactive Tax Assistant, Tax Topics, Frequently Asked Questions, Tax Trails and the IRS Tax Map to get faster answers.
- Use IRS.gov to track refunds – The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. IRS customer service representatives cannot answer refund questions until after the 21-day period. But taxpayers can track their refund anytime by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go app. Taxpayers can also call the IRS refund hotline at 800-829-1954.
- How to validate identity – Taxpayers who need to call the IRS with questions about their account should be prepared to verify their identity. IRS telephone assistors may ask a series of questions from prior-year tax returns to authenticate the identity of callers.
- All Taxpayer Assistance Centers operate by appointment. This means that anyone who needs face-to-face service should make an appointment before showing up.
- What to do about a missing Form W-2 – Those who did not receive a Form W-2, Wage, and Tax Statement, from one or more employers by Jan. 31 should first contact the issuer to inform them of the missing form. Those who do not get a response by the end of February should call the IRS for a substitute Form W-2.
The most common questions taxpayers ask the IRS involve refunds and many early filers claim either the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). By law, the agency cannot release any refund containing the EITC or ACTC before mid-February. The fastest way to receive a refund is by using e-file and direct deposit. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or debit cards starting Feb. 27, 2018, if these taxpayers chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.
The “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go mobile app will be updated Feb. 17 for the vast majority of early filers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. These taxpayers will not see a refund date on the “Where’s My Refund?” tool or through their software package providers until then. The IRS, tax preparers and tax software providers will not have additional information on refund dates, so “Where’s My Refund?” remains the best way to check the status of a refund. The “Where’s My Refund?” tool is updated once daily, usually overnight, so checking it more often will not produce new or different results.
Taxpayers can get free tax preparation assistance through IRS Free File, for those who want to prepare their own returns, or through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, for those who want a volunteer to help prepare their returns. Use the Let Us Help You page to get help answering most tax questions, get a copy of a tax record and make a payment among other services. The IRS Services Guide also links to these and other IRS services.