MISSOULA — The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is issuing a warning that there could be delays in receiving refunds due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agency is dealing with a staffing shortage and backlog from tax filings last year.
The IRS recommends filing online and signing up for direct deposit in order to receive a refund faster.
Filers will also want to make sure their return is accurate and matches IRS records for things like stimulus payments and child tax credits.
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The IRS is also issuing a warning to be on the lookout for scams this year.
Jan. 24 was the first day that people could file their taxes and the IRS is warning people to not fall victim to tax scams.
“We do see an uptick on IRS-related fraud during filing seasons,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent In Charge Andy Tsui.
The increase in fraudulent activity during tax season happens through those aggressive calls or text messages, sometimes email, and now social media.
Tsui says this makes it even more important to not give anyone our personal information and to report this activity.
"The liability of the tax amount that's due is always on the taxpayer and not the person that prepares the return,” Tsui explained.
IRS Criminal Investigation is offering some tips on what we should watch out for when doing our taxes this season.
- Choose a tax preparer wisely. One who is available year-round will answer all your questions and can provide their IRS Preparer Tax ID Number.
- Fraudulent preparers will make promises of large refunds and say they know of loopholes in the system. Always make sure that your refund goes into your bank account, not the preparers.
- Don’t sign blank tax returns and avoid using what the IRS calls “ghost preparers.”
“They’ll prepare a large volume of returns but when it goes to the IRS, there's no indicator, no information that was prepared by a third party,” Tsui told MTN News.
The IRS will reach out via mail first if needed and since the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for their taxes, it is important to do your research and ask a lot of questions.
“Make sure you go over the return, understand it to the best of your ability and then monitor the filing of it- when the refund comes and the amount,” said Tsui.
Tax season ends for most people on April 18. If you need help finding a reputable tax preparer or need to file a fraudulent report you can follow the links.