Government Shutdown 2019: Your Tax Season Questions Answered

Government Shutdown 2019

Having questions about your tax return? Sorry, the IRS cannot answer them right now. With the federal government shutdown, things have come to a halt. As if the laws were not already complex, the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed by President Trump in 2017, has further complicated things for the worse. People all over America are left baffled and to add to the agony, they cannot even find recluse in their own government anymore.

The partial federal shutdown is going on for almost a month now. And, being in the middle of tax season, people are finding it difficult to get their tax-related questions answered. But let’s not panic. If not the government, there are other resources that can help you file your taxes for 2018.

Here are some of the most common questions and their answers to help you sail through the tax process without many glitches:

When Are Taxes Due For 2018?

For American residents, taxes are officially due on Tuesday, April 15th, 2019. Whereas, those living in Maine, Massachusetts, or the District of Columbia will have until Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 to file, with regards to the Patriot’s Day and Emancipation Day, respectively.

According to the Form 4868 (“Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File US Individual Income Tax Return”), those looking for an extension will get up to 6 months extra to file their taxes, making October 15th, 2019 the due date. Individuals who are not in the country on April 15th, 2019, will get a 60-days official extension, thus making June 15th their official due date.

How Do I File My Taxes Online?

Filers who wish to file their taxes online can find a list of free tax preparation software from renowned providers such as Intuit, Tax Slayer, e-smart, and H & R Block on the IRS’ website. Filers can directly visit the website, choose their preferred software, and file their taxes for free.

But, only about 70% of the U.S. population qualifies for filing a free return. Tax filers need to have a simplified tax situation to be able to enjoy filing their taxes for free.

For example, if you have kids, you have a loan to pay for, you own a business, and itemize a deduction, you will not be able to qualify for a 1040 form. In that case, you might want to consider hiring a tax professional and you will have to pay for it.

What Are The Other Options To File?

Apart from filing online, you can directly buy a tax software CD such as ProSeries tax software from any major retailer and file your return manually on your desktop. But filing taxes on the desktop is more vulnerable than doing it online. For better security of your data and to protect it from vulnerabilities, you can opt for hosted tax software, such as ProSeries hosting, and keep your crucial data secure on the cloud. Tax software hosting combines the features of your favorite tax software with the benefits of the cloud to give you the freedom of access, scalability, and flexibility to file your return as and when you like.

When Are The State Taxes Due?

State taxes are also due on the same date as the federal tax return, i.e. April 15th, 2019. For the residents of Maine and Massachusetts, however, the due date for state taxes is April 17th, 2019.

When to Expect the Tax Refund?

It depends on how you file your taxes when you file them, and the payment method that you choose. If you file online and do not procrastinate until the last day, you can expect a quick return. Opting for a direct deposit into your bank account will get you your tax refund faster than the paper check. Typically the tax refund reflects within one to three weeks, but the partial federal shutdown may cause a delay in the tax refund this year.

Where And How To Send The Tax Payment To The IRS?

Online filers need not send their tax return anywhere. The others might need to visit the IRS website to find the correct address depending upon the state they live in and the tax form they are using to mail their tax return. Make sure you do not make your tax payment in cash. You can have the amount directly withdrawn from your bank account, send a money order, or include a personal check. Make sure your money order has all of the required personal details mentioned on it. For correct guidelines, visit the IRS website.

What If I Want To Check The Status Of My Refund?

The status of your refund can be checked 24-hours after filing an e-return and 4-weeks after filing the return by mail. Taxpayers can either visit the IRS website or they can download the mobile app IRS2Go to check the status of your return. You just need to enter your social security number or ITIN, filing status, and the exact amount of your return to check the status. ‘Received’ means IRS is processing it and ‘Approved’ means the refund is on its way.

If I Have Doubts, Can I Call The IRS Directly?

IRS welcomes all sorts of queries and makes sure all of your doubts are cleared. There are several ways of contacting the IRS: via email, live chats, the tax hotline for individuals (800-829-1040), and for businesses (800-829-4933). However, due to the federal government shutdown, all government offices are closed, including the IRS. Therefore, no one will be there to answer your queries for the time being.

Must read: Government Shutdown: A Walk to Remember…?

Lastly

If you still have questions to ask or if you are having trouble filing your tax return, there are plenty of other sources where you can find help. Visit a tax practitioner’s office or give your accountant a call to seek professional help. The IRS also provides various tax prep help programs to help individuals with their tax troubles. Although the government shutdown may affect the programs too, you can always go to a professional tax preparer for help and guidance.