Tax Season 2022: What You Need to Know
with Melinda Dunmire of the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law
The IRS is facing major backlogs with millions of returns awaiting manual processing from the last year.
Melinda Dunmire, Director of the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law, joins host Tetiana Anderson to share what taxpayers can expect this tax season, and tips for ensuring a timely refund.
March 18, 2022
Anderson: As the 2022 tax season began, the IRS was already facing major backlogs with millions of returns still awaiting manual processing from last year due to worker shortages and the added burden of administering pandemic-related programs. So, what can taxpayers expect this year, and what can they do to help ensure that they get their refunds on time?
Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Andersen. According to the IRS, a taxpayer can generally expect to receive a refund within three weeks if there are no problems with the return. But if there are complications, the refund will generally be delayed by at least 6 to 8 months. Joining me to explain more about the backlog and to share best practices for filing your federal income tax return is Melinda Dunmire, director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Melinda, thanks so much for being here.
Dunmire: You're welcome. Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure.
Anderson: So, let's start out with this backlog. I mean, how bad is it, and how did we even get to this point?
Dunmire: Well, it is a significant backlog. And I think that taxpayers this year should expect more of the same that they experienced last year. And to give you an idea, about a little more than three quarters of individuals and families request refunds when they file their income tax return. And last year, tens of millions of these refunds were delayed because of processing delays. I expect the same is going to happen this year. And the reason I say that is, well, the IRS historically starts out with a backlog of a million returns or less. And as of December of this year, the backlog was 11.7 million unprocessed returns and 4.75 million pieces of taxpayer correspondence that remained unopened.
Anderson: So, we know if there are complications with the return, that backlog can be at least 6 to 8 months. Who does this impact the most, though?
Dunmire: The people that are gonna be most affected by this problem are individuals who filed an income tax return who requested a refund. And so if you're requesting a refund on your return, you need to make sure that your return is accurate, and the IRS issued Advance Child Tax Credit payments and the third stimulus to millions of taxpayers. For example, the IRAs issued 214 million payments in the form of the Advanced Child Tax Credit and 175 million payments in the form of the third stimulus payment. Now, the individuals who received these payments will have to reconcile this information on their income tax return using the two letters the IRS issued.
Anderson: And where do tax clinics like the one you run come in? I mean, what are you doing to help?
Dunmire: Well, our goal is to educate, advocate for, and represent taxpayers. And so what we're trying to do is get the word out to let individuals know that this is a new filing season, that it presents new challenges that the previous filing season did not present, and that there are things that they can do to try and minimize the risk that there will be delays in processing their returns.
Anderson: And so that's the work you're doing in Baltimore. But are there other things like this going on across the country?
Dunmire: Oh, yes, there certainly are. There are many low-income taxpayer clinics that are funded by the IRS that are engaging in the advocacy and education that we are. Likewise, with respect to having your returns prepared, there are volunteer income tax assistance programs and tax counseling for the elderly programs that are sponsored by the IRS. And under those programs, taxpayers can get their returns prepared for free if they qualify.
Anderson: So, leave us with some sort of quick tips here. I mean, what are things that are most important that taxpayers can do, whether or not they have access to a clinic, in order to help themselves?
Dunmire: Okay. So I have four quick tips. The first one is make sure your return is accurate. The second is, if you're not preparing your return, go to a reputable preparer. The third one is to file electronically, and the fourth is to have your refund direct deposited. The key to making sure your return is accurate is comparing the letters 6419 and 6475 you received from the Internal Revenue Service if you received any of these credits. Review the information that is on those letters and verify that it matches the information that you're reporting on your return. And make sure if you are not preparing your own return once again that you go to a reputable preparer. And that would be the volunteer income tax assistance programs or the tax counseling for the elderly programs. AARP also offers some services, and your local tax agency likely will also prepare your return for free if you have your federal return filed or processed.
Anderson: There are taxpayers out there who no doubt have more questions. Is there sort of a central place you recommend that they go, a particular website to investigate more?
Dunmire: Oh, definitely, yes. Do not call the IRS. It's going to be difficult to get through. However, their website is fantastic. But if you do go to IRS.gov, make sure you go to the interactive tax assistant. The interactive tax assistant has specific prompts that will ask you particular questions so it can answer the questions you have that pertain to your particular situation.
Anderson: That is news we can use. Melinda Dunmire, director of the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law, thank you so much for that.
Dunmire: You're welcome. Thank you.
Anderson: And thanks to our viewers as well for watching. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the nation, visit Comcast Newsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.