SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Tax season is looking very different this year. The high rate of omicron infections isn’t helping and staffing issues are plaguing the Internal Revenue Service.
Stimulus checks and advance child tax credit payments issued by the federal government in 2021 could complicate returns for so many taxpayers this year.READ MORE: San Francisco Police Reveal Final Moments Before Fatal SFO Shooting; Suspect Yells 'Make Sure You Aim'
There are some simple steps to avoid wasting your time.
Processing paper returns during COVID, and post-pandemic is a daunting task for the IRS.
“Paper has not been a friend of the IRS and for the last several months during the pandemic,” said IRS spokesperson Rafael Toledo.
Backlogs, staffing shortages, and long delays mean it’s even more critical to avoid making costly errors.
“Now making a mistake which probably a few years ago would have been more easily correctable by a call to the IRS is going to be a more prolonged experience than you want it to be,” said San Jose State University Assistant Accounting Professor Caroline Chen.
To avoid wasting countless hours on the phone or writing letters, tax professionals say file electronically, choose direct deposit to eliminate paper check refunds that can easily get lost or stolen in the mail, wait and gather all documents like W2’s before filing, especially be on the lookout for IRS letters this year for stimulus payment information and child tax credits.READ MORE: Native Americans Accuse Gilroy City Leaders Of Ignoring Objections To 'Mission Bell'
If you run into problems, creating an account on IRS.gov will help.
“Security has been strengthened significantly in the last few years,” said Toledo.
Like California’s Employment Development Department, the IRS now uses ID.me, which verifies a person’s identity using facial recognition technology.
“When you automate more of the verification process, the alternative channels like call centers and in-person services are still there, but there’s not as overwhelmed,” said Blake Hall, CEO and founder of ID.me.
Taxpayers don’t scan their faces to file taxes, but the added verification allows filers to access sensitive information.
“All the apps that enable you to download your tax transcript history, and manage your child advance tax payments ID.me is the digital pathway to those applications,” said Hall.
The IRS says 9 in 10 returns are now filed electronically, but tens of millions are still sending their returns by mail.MORE NEWS: Man Found Dead At El Cerrito Library
The tax deadline this year is April 18th.