It Ain’t Over ‘Till The XXXXX Lady Sings



This has been an apocalyptic year and tax season for our Investor friends. In reality, there are only a few folks who are COMPLETELY done with their income tax today. For most, their questions go unanswered.

As I write this, today (May 17th) marks the end of a tumultuous tax season.

Without a doubt -- pardon the pun -- it’s been taxing for everybody. In conversation with many colleagues around the country ... there is wide agreement that *this* season has been the most challenging in decades.

Next Steps

Soooooo, what now? I'm glad you (ahem) asked.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be looking for information from the IRS, status updates, or just needing help with various matters. Here are a few “what ifs” that you might be thinking about.

1). If the IRS owes you a 2020 refund, be patient.
While they aim to issue most refunds within 21 days, the reality is that the IRS is drowning in work, and they simply don’t have the resources to catch up. According to National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins, the IRS is holding 31 million tax returns for manual review.

The main issue here is that last-minute Congressional changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit programs came too late for the IRS to incorporate those changes into their computer systems for the current filing season. This IT problem is compounded by a staffing shortage: Only about half of the seasonal return processing jobs have been filled, with over 4,400 such job openings still available right now.

So, if you claimed an Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit on your return in particular, you might be waiting a few months to get your refund. The IRS offers a refund status tool online at

The good news here is that the IRS will be paying you 3% interest on any refunds held up past April 15th. That’s better than you’ll get from your savings account, at least.

2). If you filed a paper return, you might be waiting up to a year. 
That’s not a typo -- a year. The IRS is still working on over 1.3 million returns for 2019 that were paper filed. Again, not a typo -- 2019 returns. This means that there’ll be inevitable delays in the processing of your 2020 return if you filed it via paper.

Your next obvious thought might be to just go back and e-file a 2020 return. The IRS vehemently advises against that because it will then take them even longer to match up your paper return with the electronic return. 

3). If you need to call the IRS, pack a lunch and WAIT on hold. 
IRS call volumes are up over 300% from last year, clocking in at over 1500 calls per second. At a minimum, this means you’re facing a 2-hour hold time in most cases. At worst, they’re just going to hang up on you. Also, from Erin Collins (the National TaxPayer Advocate), the IRS is currently only answering 7% of incoming calls.

In short, don’t call the IRS. Just don’t.

4). If you have a balance due on your 2020 tax return and can’t pay it, FILE THE RETURN NOW! 
I’ll spare you all the details here. suffice it to say that if your tax return shows a balance due, there are ways to deal with it. Don’t bury your head in the sand on this -- it’s not nearly as scary to deal with as you might think.

On a related note, if you prepared your 2020 yourself, but haven’t filed it yet because you have a balance due, file the return. The IRS penalties for not filing the return are massively higher than the penalties for not paying what you owe. Please, please, please, don’t delay filing your tax return just because you’ll owe money.

5). If somebody else prepared your return, get a second opinion.
Most tax returns are prepared correctly, and there usually isn’t an issue. But you just never know. We have found errors on tax returns prepared by highly respected CPA firms, local franchises of nationally known brands, and self-prepared returns using the fancy new artificial intelligence systems. Nobody is perfect, and neither are machines, so mistakes happen. But you only have a 3-year window in which to fix those mistakes. So, it’s always worth getting another look at those returns. Dave Fraidenburg, CPA says, "Taxpayers assume that they will owe less...if they get a second opinion. It ain't necessarily so!"

In summary, be patient for your refund, take action on any outstanding stuff with the IRS this week, and pay any amounts you may owe as quickly as possible

BE THE ROAR not the echo®

Janet Behm


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