IRS responds to concerns of Indiana taxpayers on delayed stimulus checks and tax refunds

Agency offers guidance as Hoosiers begin to file taxes
Tax Form
Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 09:48:57-05

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Internal Revenue Service is responding to questions and concerns from Indiana taxpayers about delays related to first and second stimulus checks as well as tax refunds.

Many people are receiving their W2s and getting ready to file their taxes, but the IRS says you need to take some important steps this year to get your full refund.

Indianapolis mother Christina Flores Morals is frustrated waiting for her second stimulus check, especially when she got her first stimulus payment with no problems.

“It means a lot,” Morals said. “I can pay quite a bit of my bills with this, and car payments.”

Ashley Gahagan, of Indianapolis, also had issues getting her second stimulus payment when it went into the wrong account with her tax preparer.

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"Nobody really knows how to handle it or the steps to take to get their money,” Gahagan said. ”It's kind of caught in a middle man."

IRS spokesperson Luis Garcia explained some taxpayers saw delays if their refund was coming as a loan from the tax preparer, instead of the IRS.

“There was a mix up there, and the tax preparation companies did a good job of turning that around and getting that out to people,” Garcia said.

WRTV Investigates is working for you and getting answers from the IRS.

WRTV Investigates Kara Kenney: “How are things going right now with the second round of stimulus checks?"

Garcia: "The second round of stimulus is pretty much done."

WRTV Investigates Kara Kenney: “What should someone do if they haven’t received a first or second stimulus check or they got less than they’re owed?”

Garcia: "The way you can reconcile that is by filing your tax return and filling out the part that says Recovery Rebate Credit."

WRTV Investigates Kara Kenney: “What do you say to people that say this is a headache?"

Garcia: "We are sorry for any headache this may cause. The fact is the IRS has twice issued over 160 million economic impact payments. The vast majority have received it on time.”

The National Taxpayer Advocate’s report to Congress outlined a slew of issues with the IRS impacting taxpayers including lack of communication with the public about delays, inadequate telephone and in-person service, and long delays in processing paper returns.

Garcia: "Some people's returns when they filed by paper were held up because of our COVID protocols. In some cases there were semi-trucks of tax returns that weren't processed because we couldn't get to it, but as soon as we were able to safely, they were processed."

WRTV Investigates Kara Kenney: “What is the IRS doing to improve its technology to better serve consumers?”

Garcia: “The IRS is doing the best it can with the resources it has. We do maybe not a perfect job or the job we’d like to do, but we do a bang up job with what we have.”

In FY 2020, the IRS received more than 100 million calls on its toll-free telephone lines and IRS employees answered only about 24 million, read the report.

The number of taxpayers the IRS has served face-to-face has declined from 4.4 million five years ago in FY 2016, to 2.3 million in FY 2019, to 1.0 million in FY 2020.

The National Taxpayer Advocate recommends that the IRS prioritize the expansion of “customer callback” technology and give taxpayers the option of receiving face-to-face service through videoconferencing.

“We are positively doing the best we can with what we have, and we understand the importance completely of processing people’s returns as quickly as possible so they can get their refund and Economic Impact Payment,” Garcia said.

The IRS wants to remind Indiana taxpayers that if you make less than $72,000, you can file your taxes for free using IRS E-file, rather than paying for a program or software.

"It's the same thing, just free," Garcia said.

Also, do your homework if you decide to hire a tax preparer — especially one that promises you a huge refund.

Scammers can pose as tax preparers, warned Garcia.

“All they’re doing is stealing your family’s personal information and stealing your money and leaving you with the bill,” Garcia said.