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  • Writer's pictureMichael Trout

Frequently Asked Questions for the 2020 Tax Year...

It's the most wonderful time of the year! 2020 has been anything but ordinary and we are doing our best here to keep everyone up to date with everything that's been going on during this tumultuous time.

The IRS last year shut offices and slowed down operations when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, creating backlogs. The processing of some tax returns crawled to a halt and millions of 2019 refunds got delayed — right at the time the agency had to switch over to processing stimulus payments.

As of Christmas, the IRS still had 6.9 million individual tax returns to process for 2020. The agency said recently that it is making "significant progress" in processing them.

Remaining wait times depend on where taxpayers sent returns and where they were processed, the IRS said, without citing specifics.

"In some locations, we are caught up or almost caught up,” the agency added in a Jan. 13 operational update.

With all of the chaos this year we know things can be confusing I have tried to compile a list of F.A.Q.'s to help navigate this year's Tax Season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Has the IRS tax season started yet?

Yes. This year start date of the filing season, when the IRS begins to accept and process returns, was pushed until Feb. 12. We began to submit returns on the 12th.

How long does it take for my Tax Return to be Filed?

We prepare and file returns in the order in which we receive them. It can vary drastically from a few days to a few weeks depending on how busy we are and how many other clients have submitted their paperwork. You can always call for a status update.

How long Until I Get My Refund?

Obviously this depends on several factors I put together an entire post dedicated to this with charts and estimated dates based on various situations. Click Here To Read More

What Do I Do if I Still Didn't Get My Stimulus Check?

People who were eligible but didn't receive a payment, or an accurate amount, can claim a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 taxes this year.

Please let us know when we are preparing your return that you did not receive the correct amount and the amount you believe to be missing so we can request it for you.

Incidentally, many of the stimulus payments now being made in the current round are in the form of prepaid debit cards to avoid this issue.

Are You Still Taking Appointments?

Yes. We still take in-person and virtual appointments. It is the client's preference, we will accommodate anyway we can.

You can book an appointment anytime Click Here

*Please Note* Scott will not be taking any additional personal tax appointments from March 1 - March 15th 2021 to provide our business customers with the attention and service they require as we are approaching the corporate deadline. Availability will be updated on the booking calendar.

You may still drop off or submit documents and we are still working on personal returns during this time.

How Do I Get into the Que?

As soon as we have the documents or you have had an appointment, you will be added into the system.

How Do I Get My Documents to You?

You may drop off your documents in person Monday - Saturday 10:00am - 5:00pm at the front desk.

You can mail your documents to us at:

Trout, James & Associates, PC

168 W Ridge Pike

Suite 125

Limerick, Pa 19468

You can also upload your documents at anytime 24/7 on The Client Portal. As soon as we receive notice of the upload your return will be logged into the que.

If you are an existing client and have not registered for the Client Portal you can Click Here To Register.

If you are a New Client you can Book an Initial Appointment or Contact Us to get started.

Were there many Major 2020 tax changes?

There were some, but not like the broad changes that took effect for the 2019 tax year.

The biggest change in 2020 was the widespread issuance of Economic Impact Payments or stimulus checks. These don't count as taxable income, meaning people who received their payments don't need to do anything to account for them on their tax returns.

Payments were automatic for people who filed a 2019 tax return and those receiving Social Security retirement income, survivor or disability benefits, Veterans Affairs benefits and for some other groups.

Is The IRS also Changing the April 15th Deadline?

As of 03/17/2021 The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service have officially announced that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021.

Anything else of particular note?

Required minimum distributions from retirement accounts were suspended for 2020, and people who withdrew money from their accounts may spread this income over three years, which could lower the tax bite.

People under 59 1/2 who withdrew money (up to $100,000) from retirement accounts won't face the 10% penalty that normally applies, assuming they were affected by the coronavirus in one of many possible ways.

There's also a new deduction of up to $300 per return for charity donations made by nonitemizers during 2020. Also for nonitemizers, who now represent around 90% of taxpayers, the standard deduction rose to $12,400 for singles and $24,800 for married couples — up $200 and $400, respectively.

IRS Publication 17, available at, provides a summary of recent tax changes.

Can taxpayers expect much personal help from the IRS?

Probably not. The agency had closed more of its walk-in offices to the public, including the four Taxpayer Assistance Centers in Arizona, for example, even before the virus hit. During fiscal 2020, the IRS handled 1 million taxpayer visits across the U.S., by appointment, down from 4.4 million in 2016, according to the office of National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins.

Translation: Fewer than 1% of individual taxpayers are helped in person by the IRS, and the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't made that better.

Over-the-phone assistance also is spotty. Last year, the IRS received 100 million calls on its toll-free line but answered only 24 million, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate. Those people who got through were on hold an average of 18 minutes.

How about VITA sites?

In normal years, lower-income individuals may receive free tax-return preparation at IRS-affiliated VITA, or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, sites set up at libraries, community centers, community colleges and other public venues.

Many, if not most, of these shut down last year with the pandemic. Program organizers haven't yet announced participating locations, the mix of remote or in-person services, or other details.

Options still under discussion include drop-off and pickup services, limited face-to-face help by appointment and free links to VITA software for do-it-yourselfers.

We may be able to help you, Contact Us for more resources.

What about Individual States' tax season?

Since we service clients from across the united states, we can answer you specifically if you contact us. All the information is available online/ It is important to check your individual state. As with federal returns, the normal state filing deadline is April 15, with automatic six-month extensions available, to Oct. 15.

As in years past, the department is encouraging electronic filing of returns, especially for people seeking quick processing and refund payments. Last year, about 90% of tax returns were filed electronically.

If you file electronically, "you can look for your refund within a couple weeks of the return acceptance," the department said. "If you file a paper return, you can anticipate your refund within 6-8 weeks of the date you filed."

However, refunds flagged for accuracy, fraud or identity theft concerns can take longer.

If you would like more information on the tax date being moved back Click Here

If you have any additional questions Click Here to Contact Us

As always, we hope everyone is staying safe and healthy,

- Mike


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