IRS Announces Major Tax Filing Changes for Next Year—How You Can Benefit
Some new tools could make it easier to send in your documents and track your refund.
Filing your taxes may be the one thing you count on doing every year, but it might not always be the same process. Even when you haven't had a major life change such as getting married or starting a new job, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) still makes adjustments to the process that can affect how you submit your paperwork. In fact, those who are already getting everything in order ahead of the deadline might want to take note after the IRS announced a major set of tax filing changes for next year. Read on to see how you can benefit from the latest update.
Virtually everyone will be able to submit all necessary documents online without printing a single form.
While plenty of people choose to file their taxes online, the process can still involve a decent amount of physical paperwork for some who require extra forms or documentation. But if you've had to rely on the postal service to get everything in on time in the past, you can breathe a sigh of relief.
In a Nov. 7 press release, the IRS announced that it had reached its goal of implementing the Paperless Processing Initiative three months ahead of schedule. The program, which was announced in August, makes it possible for taxpayers to submit all correspondence and responses to notices using a Document Upload Tool on the agency's website.
The new service provides another significant upgrade from the latest changes released last February, which made the nine most common correspondences available for digital reply, Yahoo Finance reports. The prior system relied entirely on using physical mail to conduct business.
Not only will the new system cut processing time in half, but the agency also says the program will help save over 200 million pieces of paper each year. And while the IRS estimates that 94 percent of individual taxpayers will no longer need to use the mail, those who choose to file through the post will still be able to if they choose to do so.
The agency also updated its refund tracker tool.
If there's any silver lining to paying your taxes, it's getting a refund down the line. Now, those who are anxious to see some of their cash come back can get a better idea of when it's coming thanks to the agency's newly improved Where's My Refund tool.
According to the IRS announcement, taxpayers will be able to use the online feature to check the precise status of their refund, as well as find out if they need to respond to an agency request for more information. Previously, the tool provided a generic message that didn't offer any specific information about a person's filing.
The tool has seen plenty of use in the past, with about 54 million taxpayers using it to generate 550 million hits in 2022, per the IRS. The agency says the detailed updates will likely reduce the number of phone calls made to the IRS for refund status inquiries.
The IRS also improved its phone assistance to cut down on wait times.
When you're looking for a quick answer to your questions while preparing your taxes, nothing beats the efficiency of a phone call. This year, the agency says it is continuing with improvements it's made to its phone service to make the service even more accessible.
The agency says it plans to reach at least an 85 percent level of service once again during the 2024 filing season, carrying over improvements made to the system during last year's filing brought about by hiring a stable of new representatives, per the press release. The IRS will also aim to have an average wait time of five minutes or less and offer a call-back option if the projected wait time is longer than 15 minutes.
The agency is also ramping up its in-person assistance services by opening or reopening dozens of Taxpayer Assistance Centers.
Those who want some in-person help will also see some improvements. The agency says it is opening or has reopened 50 Taxpayer Assistance Centers nationwide and will be increasing the number of available hours for assistance by more than 8,500 hours. The complete list of locations and reopening dates can be found in the press release.
The IRS also says it will be rolling out more pop-up centers and aims to increase the number of taxpayers receiving free in-person preparation assistance by 50,000 returns. All told, some experts think the updates could help smooth out what can be a notoriously tricky and confusing process.
"I think these changes are good news," Grant Dougherty, enrolled agent and founder of Dougherty Tax Solutions, told Yahoo Finance. "Anytime the taxpayer experience can be improved, I think it's always a win for everyone involved. I do believe the [2024 filing season] will be a little smoother."