Tax Season

The Oregon Department of Revenue and the Internal Revenue Service have issued recommendations to help you successfully navigate through the tax season.

The Chronicle has complied the following recommendations from the Oregon Department of Revenue (ODR) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) designed to help you navigate successfully through the tax season.

The Oregon Department of Revenue

The IRS and DOR will begin accepting efile tax returns on Jan. 24. The tax filing deadline this year is April 18.

Returns will be processed in the order they are received. However, as in years past, the department won’t issue personal income tax refunds until mid-February. A refund hold is part of the department’s tax fraud prevention efforts and allows for confirmation that the amounts claimed on tax returns match what employers report on forms W-2 and 1099.

Revenue encourages taxpayers to organize their tax records and check on the following items before filing their 2021 tax return to ensure that it is a complete and accurate tax return:

  • Make sure your information is current at Revenue Online.
  • If you don’t have a Revenue Online account, we encourage you to set one up.
  • See the IRS and DOR websites for tax filing tips.
  • Assemble your W-2 from your employer(s), 1099 forms and other documents you will need to file.

Check the amount of any Child Tax Credit payments you received. Advance payments were sent automatically by the IRS to those eligible. Families who received advance payments need to file a 2021 tax return and compare the advance payments they received in 2021 with the amount of the Child Tax Credit they can properly claim on their 2021 federal tax return.

Choose a reputable tax preparer. The Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners offers a License Lookup website and there is more information from the IRS website.

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) confirmed a nearly $1.9 billion tax surplus, triggering a tax surplus credit, or kicker, for the 2021 tax year that will be returned to taxpayers through a credit on their 2021 state personal income tax returns filed in 2022.

You're eligible to claim the kicker if you filed a 2020 tax return and had tax due before credits. Even if you don't have a filing obligation for 2021, you still must file a 2021 tax return to claim your kicker credit. There will be detailed information on how to claim your kicker credit in the 2021 Oregon personal income tax return instructions: Form OR-40 for full-year Oregon residents, Form OR-40-P for part-year residents, and Form OR-40-N for nonresidents. Composite and fiduciary-income tax return filers are also eligible. Use the What’s My Kicker calculator to determine what your credit amount will be.

Keep in mind that the state may use all or part of your kicker to pay any state debt you owe, such as tax due for other years, child support, court fines, or school loans.

Here are a few other things for taxpayers to keep in mind this tax season:

E-filing is the fastest way to get your tax refund. On average, taxpayers who e-file their returns and request their refund via direct deposit receive their refund sooner than those who file paper returns and request paper refund checks. There are several free or low-cost preparation options available for both federal and Oregon tax returns, as long you meet the qualifications. Free tax preparation services are available for low- to moderate-income taxpayers through AARP and CASH Oregon. United Way also offers free tax help through their MyFreeTaxes program. Check the DOR website for more information.

Taxpayers can order copies of past returns, letters, or other correspondence—from 2015 to current—through their Revenue Online account. They can also order and pay for these, or older documents, over the phone at 800-356-4222.

Anyone who needs a personal income tax return booklet can download and print it from the department’s website at www.oregon.gov/dor/forms They can also order a copy online, by calling 503-378-4988 or 800-356-4222, or by mailing their request—along with their name, phone number, and mailing address to

Forms

Oregon Department of Revenue

PO Box 14999

Salem, OR 97309-0990

For more information about the Earned Income Tax Credit and eligibility, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov. For details on the Oregon Earned Income Credit, visit the DOR website. Even taxpayers who aren’t required to file taxes could be eligible for both credits.

You can visit www.oregon.gov/dor to get forms, check the status of your refund, or make payments. Call 503-378-4988 or 800-356-4222 (toll-free) or email questions.dor@oregon.gov for additional assistance. For TTY for hearing- or speech-impaired, call 800-886-7204.

The ODR website offers a number of links with information about Revenue’s Withholding Calculator, choosing a reputable tax return preparer, getting access to our forms and publications, and a frequently asked questions page.

“We encourage taxpayers to begin gathering their tax related documents and records, waiting for their W-2 from their employer, and expect that returns will not begin processing until sometime in mid-February,” The ODR Public Information Officer Rich Hoover said. “Taxpayers can make sure their information is current at Revenue Online.”

Gather and organize your tax records

Organized tax records make preparing a complete and accurate tax return easier and to avoid errors. Wait to file until you have your tax records including:

• Forms W-2 from your employer(s)

• Forms 1099 from banks, issuing agencies and other payers including unemployment compensation, dividends, distributions from a pension, annuity, retirement plan, or other non-employee compensation

• Form 1099-K, 1099-MISC, 1099-NEC, W-2 or other income statement if you worked in the gig economy

• Form 1099-INT if you were paid interest

Make sure you’ve withheld enough tax

“Withholding” is the portion of your wages you have withheld from your paychecks to cover your anticipated annual income tax liability. Your employer withholds the amount you specify—based on how you fill out the state OR-W-4 and federal W-4 —and sends them to the Oregon Department of Revenue and the IRS, where it’s applied to your tax account. You can check if you are having enough withheld at the DOR Withholding Calculator.

Use a bank account to speed tax refunds with direct deposit

File electronically, choose direct deposit and you will get a refund faster. Information is available at the IRS website.

According to the IRS, eight out of 10 taxpayers get their refunds by using direct deposit. It is simple, safe and secure. This is the same electronic transfer system used to deposit nearly 98 percent of all Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits into millions of accounts.

Combining direct deposit with electronic filing is the fastest way to receive your refund. IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Taxpayers who used direct deposit for their tax returns also received their economic impact payments quicker.

Choose a reputable tax return preparer

Taxpayers should choose a tax return preparer wisely. This is important because taxpayers are responsible for all the information on their return, no matter who prepares it for them. The Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners offers a Licensee Lookup web site. The IRS has a website with information.

IRS warning

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers the following information about tax scams and fraud.

Impersonation telephone scams

A sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be IRS employees, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.

Note the IRS doesn’t:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Ghost preparers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) urges taxpayers to be cautious of who prepares their tax statements.

The IRS warns taxpayers to avoid unethical tax return preparers, known as ghost preparers. A ghost preparer is someone who doesn’t sign tax returns they prepare. Not signing a return is a red flag that the paid preparer may be looking to make a quick profit by promising a big refund or charging fees based on the size of the refund.

Scams targeting tax professionals

Increasingly, tax professionals are being targeted by identity thieves. These criminals - many of them sophisticated, organized syndicates - are redoubling their efforts to gather personal data to file fraudulent federal and state income tax returns. The Security Summit has a campaign aimed at tax professionals.

Every tax professional in the United States - whether a member of a major accounting firm or an owner of a one-person storefront - is a potential target for highly sophisticated, well-funded and technologically adept cybercriminals around the world.

Their objective: to steal your clients’ data so they can file fraudulent tax returns that better impersonate their victims and are harder to detect. Their tactics: using email, the phone or other means to trick you into giving up computer passwords, e-Services passwords, to steal your EFINs or CAF numbers or even to take remote control of your entire computer system.

Protecting client data also is the law. Federal Trade Commission regulations require professional tax preparers to create and enact security plans to protect client data.

Fraudsters posing as Taxpayer Advocacy Panel

Some taxpayers receive emails that appear to be from the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) about a tax refund. These emails are a phishing scam, trying to trick victims into providing personal and financial information. Do not respond or click any link. If you receive this scam, forward it to phishing@irs.gov and note that it seems to be a scam phishing for your information.

TAP is a volunteer board that advises the IRS on systemic issues affecting taxpayers. It never requests, and does not have access to, any taxpayer’s personal and financial information.

If you have questions about your taxes, call the Oregon Revenue Department at 1-800-356-4222 or the IRS at 844-545-5640.

This special report also appears in the Jan. 12 print edition of The Chronicle.

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