KIYC: Separating fact from fiction as Tax Day approaches
The federal income tax deadline is coming up in a little over two weeks. Kane In Your Corner hit the streets to help News 12 viewers separate fact from fiction.
True or false: The IRS will communicate with taxpayers via phone, email and text.
Viewers we spoke to were evenly split on the question, but the IRS says the answer is false. The agency says it contacts taxpayers by mail in general.
“There are occasions where we will call taxpayers, but we will never call taxpayers threatening legal action,” says Tammy Tomlins, acting special agent in charge of the IRS’ Newark bureau. “And generally, if you do owe back taxes, you'll get a letter from the IRS, and we will absolutely not email you or send you a text message. So, if you get a text claiming to be from the IRS, delete it.”
True or false: One of the most common reasons for a problem with a tax return is a mistake with the name or Social Security number.
Most viewers we spoke to got this answer correct. The IRS says it’s true. And it doesn’t just have to be a typo that causes the problem. Tax returns can sometimes be flagged by something as simple as using a middle initial on your return one year and not the next. It won’t impact the amount of your return, but it could take longer for the IRS to process it.
True or false: The IRS is hiring 87,000 armed special agents to crack down on tax cheats.
This is a story that has made headlines. Some Republican lawmakers in Congress were so concerned about the 87,000 supposed new agents that they even introduced legislation to block it. But the IRS says it’s a myth, apparently caused by a misreading of a line in a budget proposal. Tomlins says the agency only has 79,000 employees total, most of whom are not agents. As for new hires, she says, “We had intended to hire 360 Special Agents in (2023), but that addresses attrition and retirement.”
True or false: Under President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, loans that are forgiven would count as taxable income.
The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on whether student loan forgiveness can be implemented. But the IRS says if it is, loans that are forgiven will not count as taxable income, at least as far as the IRS is concerned. State departments of taxation would be able to make their own rules.
True or false: Because the law says taxes are voluntary, we are not legally obligated to pay.
Fortunately, none of our viewers got this question wrong, because a wrong answer can be costly. The IRS says this is unequivocally false. So why does the law talk about “voluntary taxes?” Tomlins says it’s because legally, Americans are trusted to prepare their tax returns, send them to the IRS and make payments on their own.
“If you think back to some of the old TV shows, you see where there's someone riding into the village, on horseback with their little cloth pouch, collecting coins or taxes,” Tomlins says. “We don't do that. The whole voluntary compliance stems from the fact that we trust American taxpayers to pay their fair share.”
Click here for more info from the IRS on tax myths.
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