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Why Taxpayers Should be Prepared for Natural Disasters

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • Learn how to recover lost or stolen tax documents in order to file your taxes. 
  • Reach out to the tax preparer that filed your returns and request copies.
  • If you used a tax filing software to file your taxes, you can log back in and review past returns that you previously filed.
  • Request a copy of your transcripts from the IRS either electronically or by mail.
  • Upload digital copies of your past tax years onto a secure server.

Tax season is such a chaotic time of the year, especially when it comes to scheduling tax appointments, finding the right tax preparer, and getting all your documents in order. What most people can’t plan for is when a natural disaster hits that could potentially devastate their community, their home, and any important documentation that was stored in their home. 

So what can you do if a natural disaster has caused you to lose tax documents? Here are a few ways that will help you recover your important information and get back on track with filing your tax return:

  • Contact the IRS. If your area has been federally declared a disaster area, you can call 866-562-5227 and speak with an IRS agent who is specialized to assist taxpayers affected by natural disasters.
  • Get a copy of your tax return. If you are in need of past tax returns because they were damaged in a natural disaster, you can always reach out to the tax preparer that filed your returns and request copies. If you used a tax filing software to file your taxes, you can log back in and review past returns that you previously filed.
  • Request a transcript. If you are unable to access your previous tax years, you can always request a copy of your transcripts from the IRS either electronically or by mail. 
  • Create digital copies. Upload digital copies of your past tax years onto a secure server so if a natural disaster ever occurs you will have back-up copies on file to refer back to.

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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Retirement Account Owners Able to Make Early Withdrawals for Covid-19 Costs

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • The Relief and Economic Security Act allows taxpayers to pull from their retirement account and utilize the money specifically for coronavirus emergency expenses.
  • Taxpayers are required to put withdrawn funds back into your account within three years or face penalties.
  • If you withdraw from your retirement and are unable to pay back the amount within three years, it is recommended that you consult a tax professional.

Because of all the uncertainty our nation is currently facing, it may leave some people wondering how they’re going to pay their bills and how they will cope financially after this crisis is over. The government has just announced that in addition to the stimulus package, they will also be providing additional relief by allowing taxpayers to pull from their retirement accounts for Covid-19 emergency related expenses without penalty. It is important to understand the stipulations from pulling out of your retirement account and the possible repercussions you may face in the future for doing so. 

The Relief and Economic Security Act allows taxpayers to pull from their retirement account and utilize the money specifically for coronavirus emergency expenses. Retirement account owners will be able to withdraw up to $100,000 from their accounts and will be able to extend their repayment period for existing loans without facing any penalties.  

Although you are able to take out money from your retirement account, the government does require you to put withdrawn funds back into your account within three years. Should you not put the funds back after this period of time, the IRS will place penalties against you in addition to possibly owing a tax balance the next time you file your taxes. 

If you need to withdraw from your retirement account and know that there is a possibility that you may not be able to place the funds back within the three year period, it is recommended that you consult with a tax professional to see what your options moving forward and how you can possibly minimize your balance or see what payment plan options are available to you. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation

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Where’s my Tax Refund?

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • Most taxpayers will expect to receive their refunds in 21 days once their tax returns have been received by the IRS. 
  • If a tax return is amended it could take up to 16 weeks before a tax refund is received. 
  • If a refund check has not been received, a taxpayer can file a claim online to receive a replacement check. 

For most taxpayers, filing their taxes is not something they get excited about doing every year, but there is something that most look forward to receiving after filing their tax return. Receiving a tax refund means you have extra money in your pocket that you can either throw into your savings or perhaps put it towards that vacation you’ve been dreaming about all year. Whichever way you choose to spend your money, there are important details to know about your refund and how long it may take for you to receive it.

Here are a few questions taxpayers have when it comes to receiving their refund:

How quickly will I receive my refund?

Once your tax return has been filed and received by the IRS for processing, it typically takes less than 21
days.

It’s been over 21 days and I still haven’t received my refund. Is this normal?

It sometimes takes the IRS more than 21 days to process your tax return but, it could also mean that there was an issue with your return. Here are a few that may delay you receiving a
refund:

  • Errors on your tax return.
  • Your tax return was incomplete.
  • It was flagged for identity theft or fraud.
  • Your return included the Injured Spouse Allocation form – this could take up to 14 weeks to process.

When can I start tracking my refund status?

24 hours after you’ve e-filed your tax return, you can start checking your refund status. If you mailed in your return, it could take up to four weeks before you’re able to check your status. 

Will amending my tax return prolong me from receiving a refund?

If you’ve amended your return, you can expect to receive your refund in about 16 weeks. 

What if my refund was lost, stolen, or destroyed?

You can file a claim on the IRS website. A replacement check will be mailed out if it has been more than 28 days from that date your refund was mailed off. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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The IRS Urges Taxpayers to File Their Taxes in Order to Receive a Stimulus Check

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • The IRS is urging taxpayers to file as soon as possible in order to reap the benefits of this package.
  • If you have yet to file for your 2018 tax year, this could potentially affect your ability to receive a stimulus check. 
  • The IRS recommends that taxpayers file their tax returns as quickly as possible and that non-filers consider contacting a tax professional to assist them with their unfiled tax years.

The new stimulus package is meant to assist both taxpayers and businesses that have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. The package is meant to provide relief and aid to those that have been left without a paycheck, become unemployed, or are a business that has experienced a loss of customers.

In order to qualify for any compensation received from the stimulus package, you must have filed your taxes within the last two years.

The IRS is urging taxpayers to file as soon as possible in order to reap the benefits of this package. The IRS has notified taxpayers that in order to receive any potential credits or rebates, your 2018 and/or 2019 tax returns will need to be filed. If you have yet to file for your 2018 tax year, this could potentially affect your ability to receive a stimulus check. 

Once delinquent returns have been filed and a taxpayer is fully compliant, they are able to resolve any outstanding tax liabilities by either negotiating an installment agreement or inquiring with a tax professional to see if they qualify for an Offer in Compromise with the IRS in order to obtain a “Fresh Start.”

The IRS recommends that taxpayers file their tax returns as quickly as possible and that non-filers consider contacting a tax professional to assist them with their unfiled tax years.

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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What You Need to Know About the Covid-19 Stimulus Package

Updated on March 30, 2020

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared that Americans that requested direct deposit on their tax return could expect their stimulus checks to be deposited directly into their bank account within three weeks.
  • If you filed a paper copy tax return or opted out of direct deposit, the government will send a check in the mail.
  • The following will not receive a stimulus check: children who are 17 or 18 years old, adults claimed as dependents, nonresident aliens, estates, individuals who earn more than $99,000 or married couples earning more than $189,000, and people who have not filed their 2018 and 2019 tax return.

Click here to learn more about the stimulus package.

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • The White House and Senate leaders struck a deal to pass a $2 trillion virus stimulus package to assist struggling businesses and taxpayers.
  • Individuals who are earning $75,000 or less in adjusted gross income will receive a check for $1,200 while married couples earning up to $150,000 would receive a check for $2400 – and an additional $500 per child in their household.
  • The new deal also calls for a new pandemic unemployment assistance program to provide assistance to those who are unemployed, partially employed, or for those who are unable to work due to the virus outbreak.

On March 25, Senate leaders approved a $2 trillion stimulus package created to assist struggling businesses as well as taxpayers. Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, many Americans have been left without jobs and businesses are unable to draw in any customers, causing an economic downturn. So what does the stimulus package mean for everyone, and how do you know if you qualify for the benefits and relief this package provides?

Under the stimulus package, individuals who are earning $75,000 or less in adjusted gross income will receive a check for $1,200 while married couples earning up to $150,000 would receive a check for $2400 – and an additional $500 per child in their household. If an individual makes more than $99,000 or if a couple makes more than $198,000 combined, they may not be eligible to receive a stimulus check. 

The bill also provides assistance to those who are currently unemployed by giving jobless workers an additional $600 a week for four months, on top of their state benefits. The new deal also calls for a new pandemic unemployment assistance program to provide assistance to those who are unemployed, partially employed, or for those who are unable to work due to the virus outbreak. This will include independent contractors and the self-employed who don’t typically qualify for this type of assistance.

The stimulus package will not only include provisions to assist people who have lost their jobs due to the outbreak, but also bail out large corporations that have been negatively impacted by the economic downfall. The bill will also support small businesses that face an existential threat due to measures taken to counter the virus outbreak. There are many new developments expected to be announced within the coming days, so make sure to monitor for updates on how the stimulus package can affect you. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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How to Avoid Getting Scammed by a Tax Preparer

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • Be wary of scammers pretending to be tax preparers.
  • Look for a tax preparer that is available year-round to assist you with all your tax questions.
  • Make sure that your tax preparer has a PTIN.
  • Don’t give any personal information away to a tax preparer if you’re still shopping around.

Tax season is hard enough to get through with all the documents you have to provide and the constant worry if you’re going to owe a tax debt. For most, it never crosses their mind that their tax preparer could be the one that is committing fraud by stealing their client’s personal information, refunds, or identity. 

Here are a few things to lookout for when choosing a tax preparer:

  • Do your research. When searching for a tax preparer make sure to verify that they have a history of working with clients and have successfully filed their taxes.
  • Check their availability. It is recommended that you find a tax preparer that works year-round to answer any questions that may arise about your tax return. 
  • Ask for their PTIN. Ask your tax preparer for their Preparation Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Paid tax preparers are required to register with the IRS and must include their PTIN on tax returns they have filed. 
  • Ask about their fees. Look out for tax preparers who charge fees based on the percentage of your refund or boast that they can give you a larger refund compared to other tax preparers. 
  • Don’t be quick to give your information away. Avoid giving personal information away like your social security number to tax preparers when you are just requesting a quote. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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The IRS will Move Their Tax Filing Deadline to Assist Taxpayers Affected by Covid-19

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced emergency measures to assist those affected by Covid-19
  • The IRS announced that it will be moving its national income tax filing day from April 15 to July 15.
  • Mnuchin encourages those who will have a tax refund to file now in order to get their money as quickly as possible. 
  • Taxpayers will have more time to file their taxes and pay their tax debt without interest or penalties. 

On March 17, 2020, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced emergency measures that the government would take to assist those affected by Covid-19. Mnuchin announced that President Trump ordered taxpayers to be given additional time to file their taxes and make tax payments without interest or penalties.

The IRS announced that it will be moving its national income tax filing day from April 15 to July 15 as part of an effort to provide taxpayers with financial relief during such difficult times given businesses are temporarily closing their doors to prevent further spread of the virus. 

Mnuchin encourages those who will have a tax refund to file now in order to get their money as quickly as possible. For those who will most likely owe a tax balance, the IRS has provided this extension to help deal with the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. For the taxpayers that are currently suffering financially, they will have more time to file their taxes and pay their tax debt without interest or penalties. 

The Treasury Department also announced earlier this week that the 90-day postponement on tax payments applies to 2019 income taxes that are owed and first-quarter tax payments that would have originally been due by April 15.

Although a tax extension has been implemented, it is still encouraged that all taxpayers file their tax returns and pay their tax debt before the new deadline. For those who wait to file their taxes until after the deadline, penalties and interest will be added to any balance owed and, should you receive a refund, penalties will be added for filing late. It is important for all taxpayers to keep themselves updated on current IRS events in order to understand how they may be affected by the new tax extension.

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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How to make a payment to the IRS

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • Taxpayers can pay the IRS directly via their savings or checking account.
  • The IRS allows taxpayers to use their debit or credit cards to make online payments. 
  • If a taxpayer is unable to pay back their tax debt, they can negotiate a payment plan with the IRS. 

If you owe the IRS, or know that you will owe after filing your taxes, you need to be aware of the options for paying back the IRS to avoid falling into collections. The IRS provides several payment options where a taxpayer can either pay the IRS right away or make arrangements to be on a monthly payment plan. 

Here are a few ways you can make payment to the IRS:

  • Pay in full from checking or savings accounts. Taxpayers have the ability to pay their tax bills in full by directly using their checking or savings account and paying online on the IRS website. You can schedule up to 30 days in advance and can cancel your payment or switch your method of payment up to two business days before your payment is taken out. 
  • Use credit or debit cards. The IRS allows taxpayers to use their debit or credit cards to make payments either online or over the phone. The IRS does not charge any hidden fees, although the convenience fees may vary depending on the type of credit card that is used. 
  • Setting up an installment agreement. If a taxpayer is unable to pay back their tax liability to the IRS, the IRS will provide the option of a monthly payment plan so they can make controlled, manageable payments until their tax debt has been satisfied. Taxpayers are required to file all required tax returns before negotiating an agreement. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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Will Covid-19 Affect the Tax Deadline this Year?

Updated on March 17, 2020

  • The IRS announced that it will be moving its national income tax filing day from April 15 to July 15 as part of an effort to provide taxpayers with financial relief during such difficult times given businesses are temporarily closing their doors to prevent further spread of the virus
  • Although a tax extension has been implemented, it is still encouraged that all taxpayers file their tax returns and pay their tax debt before the new deadline. 
  • Taxpayers will not be charged interest and penalties should they file the extension. 

Click here to learn more about how Covid-19 is affecting the tax deadline.

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • President Trump has recently announced he would be extending the April 15 filing deadline for those that have contracted the virus
  • President Trump did not specify who specifically would qualify for a filing extension and for how long the extension would be for.
  • It is recommended that all healthy taxpayers file their taxes before the tax deadline.

Everyone is getting ready for tax season with the impending tax deadline right around the corner. However, with the new developments of Covid-19 affecting the general U.S. population and a potential quarantine looming around the corner, taxpayers are wondering how they will be able to get their taxes done. 

How Covid-19 may affect filing your taxes. President Trump has recently announced that because of the new developments and severity of the Covid-19 virus, he would be extending the April 15 filing deadline for those that have contracted the virus. Trump also stated that for those affected by the virus they would be able to defer paying their taxes by next month’s deadline.

What to be aware of when filing an extension. The IRS will most likely require proof for those that have contracted the virus should you choose to file a tax extension. In addition to this, President Trump did not specify who specifically would qualify for a filing extension and for how long the extension would be for. Several states have also extended their state tax filing for those affected by Covid-19.  You can click here to see which states have extended their tax deadlines.  

So what does this mean for those individuals who have not contracted the virus? It means that business is as usual for everyone else as of now. It is recommended that all healthy taxpayers file their taxes before the tax deadline and pay off any tax balance they may have in order to avoid accruing any additional penalties and interest. 

Tax season is almost at an end and it is vital to file your tax returns if you have yet to. It is also recommended to be on the lookout for further tax information regarding the Covid-19 virus and when you are able to file your tax extension should you qualify. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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How to Avoid Tax Fraud During Tax Season

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • Tax Season leaves many taxpayers vulnerable to identity theft and scammers.
  • Scammers can pose as tax preparers and steal your personal information. 
  • Protect your social security and bank information to ensure it does not end up in the wrong hands. 
  • Ask your tax preparer how you can avoid your personal information getting leaked if there is a data breach. 

Most people don’t realize how vulnerable they are to fraud during tax season.  The scary truth is that during this time of year, many identities are stolen and fraudulent tax returns are unwittingly filed on behalf of a taxpayer. In order to protect yourself, it is vital to exercise caution and provide only the documents and information that are absolutely necessary. Below are a few scams to be aware of during tax time to help avoid becoming a fraudster’s next victim.

Phone and Email Scams

The most obvious way to protect yourself against scammers is to never give out your personal information to someone you don’t know, especially over the phone. If someone from the “IRS” is attempting to contact you over the phone or by email and asks for your social security or card information, don’t give it to them. The IRS almost never contacts via phone, instead preferring to send notices via mail.  Even if you do receive a call from the IRS, they won’t ask for your social security number – they already have that information.  If you feel uncomfortable about the validity of a call, hang up and call the IRS yourself – that way you know if what they’re telling you is true.

Accountant fraud

Be wary of scammers who will pose as a tax preparer and then rip off customers through refund fraud or identity theft. These phony accountants will tell you that they can get you a large tax refund and typically prey on low-income and non-English speaking taxpayers. 

Even if you go to a legitimate tax preparer, your information can still be exposed if there is a data breach. To avoid this happening – and being left vulnerable – ask your tax preparer what more you can do to protect your information in case of a breach.

Identity theft

Make sure to protect your social security number at all costs. Identity thieves will attempt to steal this information in order to steal not only your identity but your tax refund too. As long as you notify the IRS that your information has been compromised and your refund has been stolen, the IRS will work with you to provide your refund. However, it will take extensive time and paperwork to prove that your information was stolen.

Tax Season is now upon us, and it’s important to protect your personal information and ensure that it can’t be compromised. Always be wary of phone calls or emails that you receive claiming to be from the IRS, especially when they’re asking for your bank information or social security number. Also, do your research when looking for a tax preparer to file your taxes for you, and make sure they have their license, as well as positive reviews from previous clients. Lastly, make sure to monitor your social security number to ensure that your data has not been breached and your identity hasn’t been stolen. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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