~ Refunds ~
Where is my refund?
Most people receive their federal tax refunds within 9 to 21 days of electronically filing. If you want to check on the status of your refund, there are two easy ways to do that:
Go to the IRS website. On the left side of the page click the link, "Where is my refund." Make sure you have the SSN of the primary taxpayer, the filing status (single, married, etc...), and the exact amount of your federal refund.
Call 1-800-829-1040 and follow the prompts to talk about "My Tax Account." You will still need the primary SSN, filing status, and refund amount.
** Note that you should wait at least 72 hours (3 days) from the date your preparer electronically filed your tax return to use either of the above options. If you try before those 3 days have passed, the IRS may not have had time to process your return yet.
Why is my tax refund taking so long? What can I do to speed up the process?
That's 2 questions, so hold onto your hat!
Remember, under normal circumstances it can take up to 21 days for the IRS to process a return and issue a refund. We usually recommend being patient and checking the IRS website periodically to figure out where they are in the process. Here are some normal reasons why it might take a little longer than usual.
Sometimes a return takes a little longer than normal to be accepted into the IRS system for processing. The countdown to your refund being issued doesn't even start until the IRS has accepted your electronically filed return. If there were any errors with filing status (Married Filing Jointly, Head-of-Household, etc.) or name/SSN matching on your return, that could delay things by a day or two. Also, sometimes the IRS has to deal with unusually high volumes. This too could delay the acceptance of your return.
After your return has been accepted, it can take a few days - depending on your refund method - for your money to get from the IRS to you. A direct bank deposit is generally the fastest method, taking a matter of hours. If you chose to receive a paper check in the mail, allow a few extra days for the mail to get to you. Finally, if you chose to have fees taken from the refund, a third-party processor manages the dispersal of those funds, which can also take a couple of days.
If you want to speed up the process, the best thing you can do is avoid the kinds of errors that cause delays, and that has to be done on the front end. I know, that was a dirty, low-down, trick question, but it's true! Once your return has been filed, it's in the hands of a government agency that still uses dot-matrix printers with ink ribbons (you young whippersnappers might have to Google that one). We try to foresee every complication, but ultimately we are at the mercy of the information you provide. If you give us hand-written records, please make sure they are written clearly. If your 5s and 6s look almost identical (you know who you are), take the extra time to make sure we know the difference.
** Please do not call us unless you have checked the IRS website and waited at least 21 days. There is nothing we can do as the IRS will not take a call from either of us about your refund until a certain amount of time has elapsed.
The IRS website says my refund is being delayed. Does that mean I am being audited?!?
No. It simply means that your return was selected for additional scrutiny. There is often a reason for the additional scrutiny, but it can also be completely random. Just write down everything the website says and follow the instructions.
If you call us to help you with it, be sure to have this information ready. In fact, you might even copy and paste the information into an email. Our ability to help you depends on how clearly and quickly we can understand the problem.
Please keep in mind that this is usually no big deal and you did not necessarily do anything wrong.
Here are a few examples of what has happened with real clients (I've changed their names to fictional characters from the book I'll never have time to write):
One client - we'll call her Sylvesta, Empress of the Valley People - she was getting the Earned Income Tax Credit and one of her qualifying children had a different last name. This can happen for all sorts of valid reasons. Nevertheless, because this can sometimes be an indicator of fraud or ID theft, the IRS selected Sylvesta's tax return for some extra questions. She faxed them a couple of documents and got her refund within two weeks.
In another case, Lysander and Teagan of the Mountain Cleft Society adopted a special needs child. Because this qualifies them for the maximum adoption credit, it's an area that gets abused a lot. The IRS asked for some adoption paperwork, the clients faxed it to them, and then they got their refund within three weeks.
In neither of these cases was the taxpayer at fault. However, because their tax situations were statistically similar to those used by some scallywags and ne'er-do-wells, the IRS selected them for slightly closer scrutiny. Most of the time, this closer scrutiny is the reason why your return is being delayed; and most of the time, these issues are resolved quickly and painlessly.
~ Filing Your Taxes ~
How do I schedule an appointment?
The easiest way is by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Appointment Request" in the subject line. Alternatively you can call or text our office (918) 858-0930. We're really hoping to implement an appointment request option on this website. Gotta have dreams, right?
If you are in the Tulsa/Broken Arrow, OK area or one of the selected nearby areas to which we travel, we will try to set up a face-to-face appointment with you. Appointments fill up quickly so please allow two to three weeks of planning. Seriously, you cannot contact us on March 29th and expect to pick a convenient day and time before April 15th. Also, if you know you won't have certain documents until a certain date, please don't schedule early and then come to your appointment and tell us that you'll send your document when it comes in. We strive to get your tax return done at your appointment. That's called an "open loop." Open loops cause errors.
If you are outside of these areas (and don't want to plan a road trip), we are happy to serve you remotely. You still need to contact us the same way (above), but let us know you want us to file your return remotely because the process will be different.
We will share a Google Drive folder with you, so please give us an email address that is connected to a Google account if you have one. A TIP form will be inside the folder.
Get your docutments into that folder, and fill out the TIP form as much as it applies to you. You can scan your documents, copy and paste them, drag and drop them, upload them, take pictures with your phone - whatever it is you know how to do or prefer to do - but get them in the folder.
We're working on a better TIP form, but for now, just do your best. You might have to print it, fill it out, and then scan it. Some poeple have been able fill it out on their computer and save it as something else, but that secret is for guild members only, and I'm not one.
Once you have put your tax documents into the shared folder, we will set you up with a "wrap-up" appointment. Since we never really know how long one of those will take, we schedule a group of 2 or 3 clients to "wrap up" within a given time frame. That means you will be scheduled to receive a call between 1-3pm or 5-7pm on a specific day (these are just examples). Someone might take 20 minutes and someone else might take 1 hour, so when you agree to a time frame, please keep in mind that you need to be available for that whole time.
Binge a TV show, read a book, or work on your dance moves in the living room. But don't agree to a schedule that requires you to multitask.
If you also have a high-speed chase planned, you won't be able to keep your appointment.
If you're attending a foreign dignitary's dinner party and expect you'll be invited to the back room for a game of high-stakes poker, don't schedule your wrap-up appointment for the same night.
In case the absurd humor takes away from the main point, this applies to being at church, the doctor's office, your child's sporting event or recital, etc. Be available.
We will work on your tax return on our own time so that when we talk to you on the phone, you should only have to answer a few quick questions and hear about the results of our work.
Then we email you some pages to sign, you sign and email them back, and then we e-file your return and send you an invoice.
If for some reason you are unable to work with the shared Google Drive folder, you can email your documents. If this is also something you cannot do for reasons of conscience or practicality, you can also send us your documents by post. BUT...Please never send original documents as we cannot guarantee they won't get lost in the mail. Also, we do not intend to send them back to you. Once we are finished filing you tax return, we intend to shred them and burn them, and then bury the ashes under a construction site in Botswana. Not really, but they will be securely disposed of, and that will include a shredder - because shredders are cool.
I am mailing/faxing/emailing in my tax return. What do I need to send?
Please contact us and we will send you the list of documents that we need.
Kittens. Please send kittens (for legal reasons, I have to say, "Please don't actually send kittens").
I am have a face-to-face appointment. What do I need to bring?
Please contact us and we will send you the list of documents that we need.
Coffee. You actually can bring coffee.
~ Extensions ~
DO I NEED TO FILE AN EXTENSION?
If you are not able to file your individual tax return by APRIL 15th (or whatever ad hoc date the seats of power determine for a given year), you should probably request an extension. When an extension is filed (requested by the taxpayer or authorized agent, and accepted by the IRS), you have until OCTOBER 15th to file your tax return before any "Late-Filing Penalties" or "Interest" begin to accrue. If you know for certain that you are receiving a refund, you do not necessarily need to file an extension (as there will not be any penalties or interest regardless of when you file) - but, we recommend requesting one anyway. Extensions push your filing deadline out (generally 6 months), which can be important for a number of reasons besides just avoiding Late-Filing Penalties. To request an extension, please submit our handy form on the "Actions" page. If you are unable to use that form, you can send an email to email@example.com with "Extension Request" in the subject line. Please be sure to include the following the information if you use the email option:
Your full name, as it appears on your Social Security card (same for your spouse, if applicable)
Your Social Security Number (same for your spouse, if applicable)
Your mailing address
Your phone number
(Optional) – Any amount you might want to pay with your extension. Unless you are self-employed or usually owe taxes, this probably will not apply to you.
I OWE TAXES - BUT IF I FILE AN EXTENSION, I WON'T HAVE TO PAY PENALTIES AND INTEREST, RIGHT?
Yes and no.
By filing an extension postmarked by April 15th, you may avoid Failure-To-File Penalties and the associated interest. That said, there is NO way to avoid Failure-To-Pay Penalties and interest. This is why we recommend that, if you know or suspect that you are going to owe taxes, you estimate your taxes owed and pay that amount when filing your extension. If you aren't sure how much you will owe in taxes, we can help you estimate them. Just call or text us at (918) 858-0930, or do the email thing (firstname.lastname@example.org) with "Payment Estimate" in the subject line.
~ IRS Issues ~
I received a letter from the IRS. What do I do?!
If you ever receive a letter from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
READ IT. Most IRS letters are not necessarily bad. While it can be scary seeing a letter from the IRS in your mailbox, most of the time it’s some mundane issue that you can handle yourself with a phone call. Anything you can handle yourself saves you money that you would otherwise have to pay to someone else.
FAX or EMAIL it to our office and THEN call us. PLEASE don’t call us before you send us the letter you received! Unless we can see the letter for ourselves, we can’t tell you what the IRS wants.
There are a couple of letters that are very common:
One is the protection from identity fraud letter. This is NOT because of something you did wrong. This one really is almost entirely random, and it's usually from the state tax commission of the state you worked in most recently (if you earned wages in multiple states, you might get one of these from any of those). Just follow the instructions. They want you to verify your wages and withholdings. That means they want copies of your income statements for the state in question. Those are W2s, 1099s, K-1s, etc. They might want a copy of your Federal Tax Return, including all schedules. All you have to do is follow the instructions on in the letter, and send in what they want. We cannot do this for you because it's about identity fraud. We are not you, and we cannot pretend to be you, especially when doing so would confirm that someone besides you is sending them information they've asked you to send.
Another common one is the ballace due letter. This doesn't necessarily mean that you did something wrong, although it might. The fact is, the IRS has to assume you are innocent until they can prove wrongdoing (this is America). And by that I mean, they have to prove that what you did was not simply a mistake. Mistakes are the most common reason for this letter. Did you have a credit card debt forgiven and forget to put it on your return? If so, and if you've already either paid or received a refund based on this error, you'll get one of these letters. Did you forget what year it was and claim a child you weren't supposed to claim. It's okay. If you really owe what they say, then pay it. If you think the IRS is in the wrong, let them know in your response. What you don't want to do is argue that you are right when you know you aren't. That turns your innocent mistake into intentional fraud.
In general, you don't need us for either of these letters. The only help we can give you on the identity fraud letter is copies of what you sent us, if you sent us anything, and we don't keep those past the end of the season. All we can do about the ballance due letter is amend your tax return with information you didn't give us (or someone else) the first time. For that, you'll need an appointment, and we very rarely do amendments during the regular tax season. If the stars have alligned and a snowball has actually survived the underworld - you know, if WE made a error on your return - we will handle it for free and as quickly as possible.
Why am I getting audited?!
It’s hard to say for sure. The IRS examination selection process is sometimes random. Most of the time, however, it’s caused by an “unusual” situation on your tax return. It’s not an accusation of wrongdoing. It is simply the IRS saying, “We noticed that your tax return was unusual in some ways. We would like you to clarify some things for us.” Here are a couple of examples:
Admiral Buckeye from Fleet Command is aslo a self-employed real estate salesman. He earned $15,000 in commissions and drove 28,000 business miles during the year. All of the above might be true, yet this return has a higher than usual chance of being audited. The reason is that the mileage is unusually high for the amount of commissions Buckeye received. There are plenty of valid reasons why this might have been the case. In Buckeye's situation, he covered a very large area to obtain new listings, which led to very high mileage. At the same time, several closings fell through and he had a bad year with commissions. Everything is true - and for Buckeye, the truth he submitted was also not what the IRS normally sees. In this case the IRS would want some sort of documentation proving his mileage and commission income.
Yarven, a probe miner at the smallest moon colony on Ganymede, sold some stocks in 2014. Her broker reported the basis of the stocks incorrectly on Form 1099-B (which can happen for several reasons). When filing her taxes, Yarven reported the correct basis on her Schedule D. This return has a higher than usual chance of being audited because most of the time, broker calculations of basis are correct. The fact that Yarven was correct in this case is unusual, and the IRS might decide to examine the return to determine if Yarven’s basis calculation was accurate. In this case the IRS would probably want historical stock prices along with documentation showing how she initially obtained the stock.
So I’m getting audited. Can Veritas represent me with the IRS?
Yes we can! At Veritas we often represent our clients when they get audited. However, please keep the following in mind:
The cost of representing you in an examination (audit) is completely separate from the fee you paid us to prepare your return. The vast majority of tax returns are accepted as filed. Occasionally, and for many reasons - including those noted above - a taxpayer’s return is selected for examination. Unless the audit is the result of a math error or a preparer error, we charge a standard hourly rate for IRS representation.
You can keep the cost of representation down (and prevent the chance of an examination altogether) by maintaining good documentation and final records. The less time and money you need to spend putting this information together, the cheaper and quicker your audit will be.
You can keep the cost of an examination down by doing much of the work yourself. Most audits are pretty straightforward. The IRS will let you know what they want you to prove. If you need to add up receipts for business meals, your calculator works just as well as ours does. The more ground work you are willing to perform, the less time we will have to charge you for.
Lastly, we reserve the right to refuse to represent anyone for any reason. Bear in mind that this rarely happens. When we do have to decline to be a taxpayer’s representative, it is usually because of one of the following reasons:
Unfeasibility. Given time constraints, the number of ongoing cases, or the general scope of the audit, we may have doubts that we can represent you effectively. Some examinations are quite comprehensive. Because we want to make sure that we perform our best work for all of our clients, we will occasionally decline an examination with short deadlines that begins during a tax season. We can't perform our best work for you if we're trying to "squeeze you in" between, or if we feel that you would be better represented by an attorney or other agency.
Unsuitability. When we prepare your taxes, we generally take you at your word regarding most deductions and other tax attributes. If in the course of an examination, it becomes clear that a taxpayer hasn’t been truthful with us regarding information on their tax return, we generally refuse to represent that taxpayer before the IRS.
Bad Faith. As mentioned above, we take taxpayers at their word unless we have reason to believe that we shouldn't. That is, we give you the benefit of the doubt - we assume that you are a decent person and that you're doing your best. We at Veritas expect the same courtesy. We understand that audits are stressful. However, when a taxpayer treats one of our staff members with belligerence, hostility, or verbal abuse, we generally refuse to continue to provide services for that taxpayer. Just remember to take a deep breath and that we are all on the same team!