HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — It’s the beginning of the tax season and that means you should see your W-2 in your mailbox any day now. Yet, accountants in Tampa Bay have some important advice that they say you need to hear before you file this year’s return.
“2021 was a long year. A lot of the big things to keep in mind are the child tax credit that had happened and the third economic impact payment that was way back in March,” explained Douglas Griesenauer of the Suncoast United Way.
Accountants say the most important thing is to double-check how much money you got in last Spring’s third round stimulus payment in March or April and if you received advanced payments for the child tax credit.
“If any of that is left out or stated incorrectly, it’s going to hold up your refund for another four to six weeks just because of that delay,” explained Stephen Ribble with the Guardian Accounting Group.
Ribble says it’s crucial you look for two pieces of information: IRS Letter 6419 — child tax credit and IRS Letter 6475 — third economic stimulus payment. If you can’t find the paper (which would have been sent via the mail), you can look it up on the IRS’ online portal.
If you chose to get the child tax credits early, Ribble says you can expect a smaller refund.
“Some may get caught off guard because the refund could be a little less this year because they took the refund payments upfront with their children. That might be a shocker to some,” he explained.
Although some employees worked the entire year from home in 2021, accountants say that shouldn’t impact how you file your taxes or allow you to make any additional deductions if you receive a W-2.
“Most of the work you have is still the same. Your office is just somewhere else now,” Griesenauer added.
Don’t be surprised if your refund takes longer to reach your bank account. The IRS is dealing with a backlog from 2020 and they also have a worker shortage.
Ribble says to speed up your return, it’s crucial to report any cryptocurrency or brokerage accounts so you don’t face trouble down the line.
“Last year a lot of people working from home opened up brokerage accounts and started investing in the markets. Even if you didn’t make money last year you still need to report those transactions,” Ribble elaborated.
This week, the Suncoast United Way opened up several tax prep locations across the Tampa Bay area to help with free tax prep. Households that make less than $74,000 a year are eligible and can get help in person or through the VITA (volunteer income tax assistance) online resource.
“If you’re a little unsure about filing your own taxes we can walk you through it and are available to answer any questions,” Griesenauer said. Suncoast United Way has 300 certified IRS tax preparers and they’re always looking for more volunteers to help with tax prep.
On Thursday, the IRS released a list of "Top 5 Things to Remember,” with suggestions for taxpayers on what documents to pull together and what to do if their 2020 returns still have not been processed.
If an electronic return is free of any errors, the IRS says it anticipates that most taxpayers will receive their refund within 21 days from the date that they file.