The first day to officially file 2018 taxes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is quickly approaching, and some are anxiously awaiting their 2018 refunds.
Many American households rely on their annual tax refunds. More than 70 percent of Americans receive money back from the IRS during tax season. The majority of Americans plan to spend this year’s refund on debt, according to a new study.
Last year, the average refund was more than $2,890, according to the agency.
The most efficient method to file, according to Michael D’Addio, principal at Marcum LLP, is electronically. Paper returns require officials to input and process the documents, and therefore tend to take longer.
Filing electronically generally results in a refund being returned in about 20 to 30 days, D’Addio told FOX Business. Paper documents can take up to weeks longer.
An ongoing government shutdown could lead to more complications than normal for taxpayers this filing season, which could add to the benefits of filing electronically.
While the IRS recalled about 60 percent of its workforce to help with refunds, the short-staffed agency could experience delays with the paper process.
For those with incomes of $66,000 and below, the IRS’ FreeFile service is already up and running. When tax season officially begins, other e-filing services will become available to all Americans, regardless of income level.
The IRS is one of the agencies that remains unfunded as political infighting over budgetary issues drags on in Washington.
Some experts have expressed concern that the agency’s limited staff could impact taxpayers’ ability to file accurately. Worries include the fact that individuals may not be able to contact staff regarding questions over the new law, or new documents. The IRS has also yet to issue clarification on certain aspects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that will impact how some people and businesses file.
Unexpected problems are also prone to pop up at the agency, which has been a lightning rod for having antiquated systems. Last year, for example, the agency delayed the original April deadline by one day after a system failure crashed the site. It has also disclosed in recent years that taxpayer accounts were compromised.
Filing season officially opens on Jan. 28.
Meanwhile, the partial government shutdown – triggered by a disagreement over funding for a wall along the country’s southern border – has entered its fourth week, affecting hundreds of thousands of federal employees.
The president told reporters this week that he’s prepared to “stay out for a long time if we have to.” Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Trump to either postpone the State of the Union address, or submit it in writing, citing security concerns – an indication Democratic leadership is also holding steadfast.