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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

IRS Unveils New Tech Oriented Tax-Filing Initiative

Capital Press

All the time, tax policy changes, get more involved, and change in order to assist (and disappoint) taxpayers. This tax season, you will likely to see a few changes to income tax policy, including adjustments for inflation, new policies for same-sex couples, and potential drawbacks for {not paying for health insurance either through a private vendor, or the federal government. One hallmark of the 2014 tax policy is its delay by several weeks, thanks to the embarrassing government shutdown back in 2013. Nonetheless, this filing season will also be the start of a completely different form of tax change — in terms of not only the amount we pay, but with the way we file.

2014's New Federal Tax-Filing Guide

At the beginning of the year, the Internal Revenue Service issued a “newly revised comprehensive tax guide,” or, as some people call it, Publication 17: a resource that should help Americans file their taxes more easily this year. Publication 17 boasts greater interactivity and tips for what it calls “tax-saving opportunities.” Among the inclusions made in Publication 17 is information on the American Opportunity Tax Credit which affects currently-enrolled college students and their guardians, as well as Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Created by the IRS since the 40's, the new issue of the guide will still include info on reporting income, capital gains and losses, IRA’s and useful content. However, at 292 pages, it's highly unlikely that many taxpayers make the time to read through Publication 17. Considering the complexity of Federal income tax, it is no surprise that the IRS posts almost daily updates to forms and instructions on their website.

Fewer Face-to Face Help Resources

The new IRS guide exhibits a major transition from in-person help resources, and more digital tools designed to help people get through tax season.

Reductions in the IRS budgets — as a result of sequestration — mean that there will be far fewer resources available for face-to-face tax submission assistance. Rather than having human interaction, those filing taxes will be referred to an array of online referential materials, including nearly 13,000 official partnering (volunteer) sites, and resources on IRS.gov - like the IRS 'Free File' program. Even the most basic questions will now be dealt with online or through one of the IRS' many hotlines. With such online assimilation becoming so ubiquitous, it's rational that a branch of the U.S. government would begin offering more of its services in the form of online content.

More Services Can Be Accessed on the Web

Though some will undoubtedly be frustrated by the lack of walk-in assistance, many others will be happy to know that they can address more tax-related problems online than ever before. Tax payers can now see and authenticate their tax forms online. Additionally, the IRS will also continue to post Employee Identification Numbers from its website. To avoid fielding taxpayer inquiries concerning the whereabouts of income tax refunds over the telephone, the IRS will now handle all similar questions online .

By Joe Garza Attorney at Garza & Harris Ltd.

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