Before you file your return, you’ll need to ensure you have the appropriate documents. First and foremost, you should ensure you have your W-2s and 1099s readily available. You may also need a copy of your 2015 tax return for easy reference when filing your 2016 taxes. Additionally, beginning in 2017, those of you using tax filing software for the first time may need your Adjusted Gross Income amount from a prior tax return in order to verify your identity. For more info about verifying your identity and electronically signing your tax return, refer to Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return on the IRS website.
Check Your ITIN
If you have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) that was issued prior to 2013, and you did not use it for tax-years 2013, 2014, and 2015, that number might not be valid for use as of January 1st, 2017 under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act (PATH Act) of 2015. If your ITIN has indeed expired, you will need to review it prior to filing your return. It typically takes 7 weeks to receive an ITIN assignment letter, but the process can take longer depending on when or how you submit your request (e.g. it may take 9 – 11 weeks if you submit Form W-7 during peak filing season, or from overseas). Note that failure to renew an expired ITIN before filing your tax return could result in a delayed refund and you may also be ineligible for certain tax credits. So, be proactive and remember to renew your ITIN ASAP!
For more info on renewing ITINs, visit the ITIN page on IRS.gov.
Delays for EITC and ACTC
If you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on your tax return, the IRS is required to hold your refund until February 15. The PATH Act requires that the IRS hold your entire refund – not just the portion associated with EITC or ACTC. This change gives the IRS more time to detect and prevent fraud, thereby ensuring you receive the refund you’re owed.
Avoid Delays with E-File
The best way to help avoid errors and ensure an accurate and efficient filing process is to e-file your taxes. Fortunately, the IRS makes it easy with a number of e-filing options:
- IRS Free File
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly
- commercial tax preparation software
- a tax professional – Polston is here to help!
Get Returns Faster with Direct Deposit
To receive your tax return faster and avoid delays due to lost or stolen checks, the IRS offers direct deposit to your bank account. The IRS’s electronic transfer system is safe and secure and is used to deposit nearly 98 percent of all Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits into millions of accounts each year. By using direct deposit, you’ll also be saving taxpayer dollars. Keep in mind that it costs more than $1 for every paper refund check issued, but only a dime for each direct deposit made. So take our advice and go with direct deposit – it’s a no brainer!
Remember, the more prepared you are, the smoother your tax-filing process will be. And should you need assistance, we’re here to lend a hand. Check out our services page and fill out the form for a free consultation. Or give us a call at 844-841-9857.