Getting help from the IRS this tax season is going to be a challenge.
The IRS has finally opened the 23.4 million pieces of mail that piled up after the pandemic shuttered its processing centers last spring. But the agency still has a backlog of paperwork from last year even as it ingests this year’s returns, issues a third round of relief payments and gears up to send monthly child tax credit payments to millions of families.
The tax deadline has been moved from April 15 to May 17, giving people more time to file. Getting help is another matter. Callers face long wait times with no guarantee they’ll reach a human being. Meanwhile, many tax help sites are closed or working at reduced capacity because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Here are some common questions and answers that could save you some time or point you to resources that will help.
WHERE’S MY STIMULUS PAYMENT?
The IRS dispatched two rounds of economic impact payments last year. If you didn’t receive your payments or received less than you should have, you can claim the “recovery rebate credit ” on your 2020 tax return that’s due May 17.
The third relief payment, created by the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that President Joe Biden signed into law March 11, started arriving in bank accounts shortly afterward . The rules are somewhat different for this relief check, which is worth up to $1,400 per person. For the first time, all dependents of eligible taxpayers can get the payment, including college students. Also, there is a steeper phaseout : Single filers with adjusted gross incomes up to $75,000 can receive the full amount, but the payment decreases above that level and zeroes out at $80,000. The phaseout range is $112,500 to $120,000 for heads of household, and $150,000 to $160,000 for married couples filing jointly. Payments will be based on adjusted gross income on 2020 returns, if those have been filed, and on 2019 returns otherwise.