Apr 3, 2024

Keep Yourself Protected This Tax Season

Keep Yourself Protected This Tax Season

It’s officially April, so you know what that means, right? Well, just in case you didn’t know, it’s officially tax season, and depending on how you view it, you may be jumping for joy or absolutely dreading it. Either way, you and millions of Americans should be hunkering down to file before the deadline that is quickly approaching. While it may seem intimidating, filing your taxes can be one of the easiest and most helpful processes you can go through, depending on your understanding and approach. 

Not sure where to start? Don’t sweat it. Below, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about this tax season and how you can help keep yourself protected when filing.


Who Is the IRS and What Are Taxes?

Established in 1862, The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the U.S. agency that administers federal tax laws and is responsible for collecting U.S. federal taxes from U.S. individual and corporate taxpayers. Filing your taxes is a process that includes collecting the estimated taxes from wage earners throughout the year from payroll deductions and the estimated tax payments from businesses based on quarterly tax filings. 

An annual filing, which is usually due by April 15th for the previous tax year, determines the amounts paid by each individual and business and the actual amounts owed. In the event the taxpayer has overpaid in taxes, the IRS will issue what is known as a tax refund. Should the taxpayer owe money, the amount due should be provided with the submitted paperwork. 

Typically, your tax dollars will support important government programs that help protect the injured, provide healthcare to senior citizens, maintain the roads, support scientific research, fund education, and much more. As mentioned, typically, the deadline for filing lands on April 15th for most Americans; however, due to official holidays, those who reside in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17th to file.


What Kind of Tax Form Do You Need?

When you go to file your taxes, you’ll need to submit what is known as a tax form. These forms are used to report taxable income and determine whether additional taxes are owed or a refund is due. However, depending on your age, status, and sources of income, you may be required to submit not only your main form(s) but also a secondary or supporting form(s) to corroborate the numbers. In the United States, nearly all individual taxpayers use either Form 1040: U.S. Individual Tax Return Definition, Types, and Use or Form 1040-SR as their main tax forms.

Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return: This is your starting point for understanding the basics of your tax return. The Form 1040 allows you to declare your filing status, take your standard deductions, claim lucrative credits, and determine how much you owe the IRS.

Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors: This is a special tax form for taxpayers who are 65 or over. The form, while similar to the 040: U.S. Individual Tax Return, has been enhanced to allow seniors to easily document common sources of income such as Social Security, IRA distributions, annuities, and investment income.

Supporting tax forms include those like the W-2 and the 1099, which are supplied by the companies that have paid money to the taxpayer during the year. Other IRS forms like Schedule D, which is used to report capital gains received from the sale of stocks, properties, and other taxable income sources, and Schedule A, which records the details of tax deductions claimed, should be supplied by the taxpayer at the time of submission.


Should Your Employer Provide You a Tax Form?

Before the end of the year, employers are responsible for properly filing payroll taxes and issuing W-2s tax forms. The W-2 form is a United States federal wage and tax statement that an employer is legally required to provide an employee and send to the Social Security Administration each year. Your W-2 Wage and Tax Statement combined itemizes your total annual wages and the amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck for the year. Should your employer not provide you with a W-2 form, here are some things you can do:


Record keeping: 

  • Track the hours you’ve worked
  • File of any written communication related to your schedule or shift
  • Store important documents related to your work, including bank statements, W-4s, or time cards.


Contact the IRS:

Should your employer not provide you with a W-2 by the end of February, do not hesitate to contact the IRS. In the meantime, you may file Form 4852, which serves as a substitute for your W-2.


Do You Know Your Tax Payer Rights?

Did you know that, as a U.S. taxpayer, you’re entitled to certain rights from the IRS? Below, we’ve compiled a few of the statements from the IRS related to taxpayer rights.

The Right to Be Informed: When it comes to your taxes, you have the right to know what you need to do in order to comply with tax laws. You are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures in all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices, and correspondence. You also have the right to be informed of any IRS procedures and any IRS decisions about your tax accounts.

The Right to Quality Service: Taxpayers are entitled to receive prompt and professional assistance when dealing with the IRS and should be spoken to in a way they can easily understand. As well as access to a supervisor to report inadequate service.

The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax: Simply put, as a taxpayer, you have the right to pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties, and to have the IRS apply all tax payments correctly.

The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum: Should you feel the IRS has incorrectly filed your taxes, you are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal and have the right to receive a written response regarding the Office of Appeals’ decision.

The Right to Retain Representation: You have the right to retain an authorized representative, like an attorney, when dealing with the IRS. You also have the right to seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if you cannot afford representation.

The Rights to Privacy and Confidentiality: Any information you’ve shared should not be shared unless explicitly authorized by you or the law. The IRS must also respect all due process rights, including search and seizure protections, and will provide, where applicable, a collection due process hearing. Taxpayers also have the right to expect appropriate action to be taken against those who wrongfully use or disclose their return information.

The Rights to a Fair and Just Tax System: As a taxpayer, you have the right to expect the tax system to consider any facts or circumstances that may hinder you from being able to pay or provide information in a timely manner. You also have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service. 

To learn more about the Bill of Taxpayer Rights, click here. If you feel your rights have been violated, we urge you to speak to an attorney. Working with an attorney can help you understand what rights you have as a taxpayer and how you may be able to fight back against those who have violated your rights. For more information, contact one of our tax attorneys today by completing our quick and easy case evaluation form.


Filers Should Be Wary of Tax Filing Companies 

When filing your taxes, not only should you be aware of any potential fraudulent activity or wage theft, but you must also take care of using a third-party filing company like H&R Block. According to a complaint filed earlier this year by the Federal Trade Commission, it alleged that tax company H&R Block, Inc., HRB Digital LLC, and HRB Tax Group, Inc. (collectively “H&R Block”) violated the provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act by using deceptive sales practices on its customers.

According to the complaint, H&R Block has forced its customers to make impossible decisions when they have reached the end of their filing session, as they are prompted to decide whether or not to pay unexpected fees. Should the filer choose to downgrade the service to a lower-cost tax-preparation option online, they must contact customer services to provide the change. Once the change is conducted, their progress will be wiped from the system. Customers can only avoid having their information wiped by continuing to move forward with the paid services. 

A hearing before an administrative judge is set for October 23rd, 2024. Until then, do not hesitate to contact an attorney if you have used H&R Block to file your taxes and were forced to lose your progress or pay a fee. For more information, connect with an attorney today by completing our free case evaluation form.