Ethnic Media Services held a zoom conference on tax related issues recently, specifically touching on the new, extended May 17 filing deadline and how provisions in the American Rescue Plan might affect some taxes.
Those persons who are self employed and filing business returns must still meet the April 15 traditional filing date.
Although there are several versions of tax software in the marketplace that will help calculate taxes and credits, experts advised that taxpayers work with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) site and receive electronic funds.
“Choose to e-file with direct deposit, said Kenneth Corbin, a commissioner with the IRS Wage and investment Division. “It is the fastest way for your return to be processed.”
Additionally, changes have been made related to unemployment compensation, due to the pandemic. Legislation, signed on March 11, allows taxpayers who earned less than $150,000 in modified adjusted gross income to exclude unemployment compensation up to $20,400 if married filing jointly and $10,200 for all other eligible taxpayers. The legislation excludes only 2020 unemployment benefits from taxes
“Up to $20,400 of unemployment compensation is now not taxable,” Corbin said.
The IRS site, Corbin explained, has several new links this year to assist taxpayers. Certain parts of the site allow users to log in to their federal tax account information to view amounts of payments received; amounts owed; payment history; installment information; tax records and key tax information. Visit irs.gov/secure access to review the authentication process.
Information on the Recovery Rebate Credit — how to claim credit and how to submit a simplified tax return—is available at irs.gov/rrc
Corbin also talked about the American Rescue Plan and the recently authorized third round of stimulus payments.
“If you haven’t gotten direct deposit, check your mail, and make sure you don’t throw away your card payment,” Corbin said, explaining that some past recipients were wary of debit cards received in the mail. “If you accidentally threw it away, there’s a toll-free number so you can have your card reissued and resent back to you.”
Stimulus payments to veterans should be dispersed by mid-April, Corbin said.
Beware of scams. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. Generally, the IRS first mails a paper bill to a person who owes taxes. In some special situations, the IRS will call or come to a home or business.
Taxpayers should report IRS, Treasury or tax-related suspicious online or email phishing scams to email@example.com. They should not open any attachments, click on any links, reply to the sender, or take any other actions that could put them at risk.
The IRS generally first mails a bill to a taxpayer who owes taxes. There are specific ways to pay taxes. The agency and its authorized private collection agencies will not:
• Leave pre-recorded, urgent, or threatening messages on an answering system.
• Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to arrest the taxpayer for not paying, deport them or revoke their licenses.
• Call to demand immediate payment with a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
• Ask for checks to third parties.
• Demand payment without giving the taxpayer an opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
Criminals can fake or spoof caller ID numbers to appear to be anywhere in the country. Scammers can even spoof an IRS office phone number or the numbers of various local, state, federal or tribal government agencies.
If a taxpayer receives an IRS or Treasury-related phone call, but doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do, they should:
• Not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
• Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the IRS impersonation scam call.
• Report the caller ID and callback number to the IRS by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject line should include “IRS Phone Scam.”
• Report the call to the Federal Trade Commission.
If a taxpayer wants to verify what taxes they owe the IRS, they should review tax account information online at IRS.gov and review their payment options.