Tax Day Tips
Cuts to the budget of the Internal Revenue Service have decreased staffing, meaning there will likely be fewer tax audits, but there are also fewer customer service representatives there to help you through your return.
The IRS estimates it lost as many as 11,000 jobs from its auditing and customer service departments.
"The amount of telephone support is down and that can be very frustrating," said Jesse Lothamer, President and CEO of Lothamer Tax Resolution. "With local offices being closed, now folks have to rely on calling and since manpower is down, those calls are not necessarily getting answered."
AARP tax aides were told to brace for an increase in traffic as they help people prepare their returns, many missing the tech support they need.
"We're getting a lot more people this year I've noticed, who used to do it online," said Ruth Malhalab, an AARP aide. "But now they're finding things are difficult."
Appointments with the AARP at Trinity United Methodist Church have been booked for at least a month now.
To the benefit of the consumer though, the IRS says it's expecting to have the fewest audits in history -- less than one percent of all returns, said IRS spokesman Luis Garcia.
That doesn't give you an excuse to cheat the system though, Lothamer said.
"The IRS still has ways to flag tax returns that fall outside of established norms," he said. "I would not necessarily say you should get more aggressive with the way you file your return, or to think you could get away with something by taking deductions you're not entitled to take."
Online Returns Up
The days of out-the-door lines at post offices may be over, U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Sabrina Todd, who says 90 percent of people now do their taxes online.
"I remember the days when the people were not only lined up inside here but they were lined up outside to the street," Todd said. "We had police officers directing traffic because traffic was that busy on Tax Day."
There were lines at the Post Office at Collins Rd., but Todd equated them to any other Hallmark holiday.
The State Treasury is pushing as many people as possible to its fast file website, saying it's faster and easier, checks your math and saves the state money.
Plus, you could get a tax refund in 7-10 days online, versus 4-6 weeks the traditional way.
The treasury estimates more than 70 percent of all Michigan income tax returns were filed electronically.