Tax season is almost here, and with it comes all of the usual issues of paperwork and confusion. Several new developments could make 2016 particularly challenging. Here are five things you need to know when filing your tax return this year:
Tax accountants get swamped
The earlier you start collecting documents and figuring out how you are going to file your taxes, the better. Many accountants might find themselves too busy to help procrastinators who wait until April to start the process. Early preparation for filing helps you avoid everything from document issues to accountants' time constraints.
Tax-filing methods are evolving
The way that people actually file their taxes is evolving, with many opting for tax preparation software. For example, TurboTax offers free and affordable services to help you fill out your tax returns. However, this software can cost as much as $79.99. Shop carefully.
The IRS is trying to prevent identity theft
With new changes in technology, the IRS is increasingly concerned about tax-filing-related identity theft. The agency says it's partnering with state tax administrators and tax leaders to protect consumers against identity theft refund fraud by using more than 20 new data elements on tax returns this year.
Precautions could make the process take longer
CBS MoneyWatch reports that the effort against identity theft and fraud will mean "more stringent passwords to access tax software" and security questions for taxpayers. There will also be a new feature that will lock users out after too many failed login attempts.
IRS customer-service levels may be low, again
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has warned that customer service will be even worse during the 2016 tax season than the previous year, when just 10 percent of taxpayers who contacted the IRS were connected to a live person. Average wait time was 23.5 minutes.