To Help Taxpayers, IRS Clarifies Some Common Early Filing Season Myths
February 8, 2018
With the 2018 filing season in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service today offered taxpayers some basic tax and refund tips to clear up some common misbeliefs.
Myth 1: All Refunds Are Delayed
The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Eight in 10 taxpayers get their refunds faster by using e-file and direct deposit. It's the safest, fastest way to receive a refund and is also easy to use.
While more than nine out of 10 federal tax refunds are issued in less than 21 days, some refunds may be delayed, but not all of them. By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds for tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The IRS began processing tax returns on Jan. 29.
Other returns may require additional review for a variety of reasons and take longer. For example, the IRS, along with its partners in the state’s and the nation’s tax industry, continue to strengthen security reviews to help protect against identity theft and refund fraud.
Myth 2: Delayed Refunds, those Claiming EITC and/or ACTC, will be Delivered on Feb. 15
By law, the IRS cannot issue EITC and ACTC refunds before mid-February. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or debit cards starting Feb. 27, 2018, if these taxpayers chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return. The IRS must hold the entire refund, not just the part related to these credits.
See the Refund Timing for Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit Filers page and the Refunds FAQs page for more information.
Myth 3: Ordering a Tax Transcript a “Secret Way” to Get a Refund Date
Ordering a tax transcript will not help taxpayers find out when they will get their refund. The IRS notes that the information on a transcript does not necessarily reflect the amount or timing of a refund. While taxpayers can use a transcript to validate past income and tax filing status for mortgage, student and small business loan applications, they should use “Where’s My Refund?” to check the status of their refund.
Myth 4: Calling the IRS or a Tax Professional Will Provide a Better Refund Date
Many people mistakenly think that talking to the IRS or calling their tax professional is the best way to find out when they will get their refund. In reality, the best way to check the status of a refund is online through the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at IRS.gov or via the IRS2Go mobile app.
The IRS updates the status of refunds once a day, usually overnight, so checking more than once a day will not produce new information. “Where’s My Refund?” has the same information available as IRS telephone assistors so there is no need to call unless requested to do so by the refund tool.
Myth 5: Calling the IRS is the Most Convenient Way to Get Answers to Tax or Refund Questions
The IRS encourages people to check IRS.gov first before calling. The official IRS website – IRS.gov – provides many self-service tools for individuals, businesses and tax professionals. For example, taxpayers can view their tax account, get answers to common questions such as eligibility for a tax benefit or find free tax preparation help.
Myth 6: The IRS will Call or Email Taxpayers about Their Refund.
The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Recognize the telltale signs of a scam. See also: How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door.
The IRS will NEVER:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill if taxes are owed.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have people arrested for not paying.
- Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
For more information on tax scams see Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts. For more information on phishing scams see Suspicious e-Mails and Identity Theft.
Help for Taxpayers
The IRS reminds taxpayers they have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax return on IRS.gov. Taxpayers can also, if eligible, receive help from a community volunteer. IRS.gov/filing provides complete information on filing options and assistance.
About 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File where IRS partners offer free brand-name software to individuals and families with incomes of $66,000 or less. Free File Fillable Forms provides electronic versions of IRS paper forms to all taxpayers regardless of income. Before starting, please visit our Fillable Forms User's Guide & Help page. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offer free tax help to people who qualify. Go to IRS.gov and enter “free tax prep” in the search box to learn more and find a nearby VITA or TCE site, or download the IRS2Go smartphone app to find a free tax prep provider in your community.
The IRS also reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can provide helpful information and advice about the ever-changing tax code. Tips for choosing a return preparer and details about national tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.