Tax preparers warn refund may be smaller than usual this year

Tax preparers warn refund may be smaller than usual this year…

Doing your taxes isn’t just about placing the correct numbers in the boxes of a form and then, as many hope, collecting a refund. There’s also how you feel about your taxes.

“It’s a very emotional transaction,” said Kathy Pickering, executive director of the Tax Institute, the research and analysis arm of tax-preparation giant H&R Block Inc.

“People are really happy when they get a big refund,” she said. “Or they’re either sad or distressed or confused if they’re not getting the refund they were hoping for — or end up owing.”

And this year many Americans are expected to be less than happy due to last year’s sweeping federal tax overhaul, which has Block and the rest of the tax-preparation industry bracing for plenty of sour reactions now that tax filing season is about to start ahead of the April 15 deadline. They’re doing things such as extra customer education, employee training and even role-playing exercises to prepare for the financial mood swings ahead.

The bill represented the biggest change in the U.S. tax code since 1986, altering the tax situation for many of the 154 million people expected to file individual federal returns this year with the Internal Revenue Service.

The latest redo, among other things, lowered tax rates for many individual income levels and raised the standard deduction. But it also eliminated many deductions that people had itemized to lower their tax burden — such as union dues and the fees that tax preparers charge — and it placed caps on others, such as state and local income tax deductions.

IRS will need YEAR to recover from shutdown, watchdog tells Congress…

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service has told lawmakers it would return from the government shutdown buried in millions of unanswered taxpayer letters, weeks behind schedule on training for workers and needing to hire thousands of new employees for this tax filing season, according to two House aides.

The National Taxpayer Advocate, a government watchdog group that oversees the collection agency, has also told House staffers it is likely to take at least a year for the IRS to return to normal operations, according to the two House aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the numbers. The watchdog group told House staffers that the recovery would take 12 to 18 months, one House aide said. These numbers assume the government does not shut down again in three weeks.

The IRS did not respond to a request for comment.

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