The taxman cometh — just three months later.
When COVID-19 began disrupting the national economy in March, the IRS announced it was pushing the federal income tax deadline back three months, from April 15 to July 15. This automatically gave individuals, trusts and corporations more time to file, and accountants in Roseburg said they are grateful for the extra time to catch up during an unprecedented year.
At Watters & Fryer, CPAs, in Roseburg, accountants described this tax season as crazy.
On July 13, two days before deadline, employees in enclosed offices typed, filed and printed in a rush, interrupted by the occasional phone call. Posters around the office read “we put the fun in refund” and “you got this.”
Mike Watters, a partner at the firm, said the pandemic led to an influx of calls about unemployment, and increased filings for business loans and grants.
“I think this is definitely the oddest year I have ever dealt with. It’s thrown a lot of things off,” Watters said. “I don’t know how I could have gotten everything done if they hadn’t pushed out the deadlines.”
July 15 is the latest the deadline has been in over 20 years, according to IRS tax calendars. Every other year, it has been on or within two days of April 15.
Watters said the later deadline gave them some breathing room to focus on new requests, but there is still the usual stress that comes with the deadline. The firm stopped overtime to help protect employees from overworking, which could hurt their immune systems.
“It feels a little bit more relaxed, because we were able to get a lot of things out the door before, because we had more time,” Watters said. “But there’s always those last minute people who come in during crunch time that want to give it to you the week before, so you try to do what you can to get it done.”
Around the country, IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers that are usually available for questions closed to protect employees from infection. The nearest center in Eugene currently operates by appointment only.
“Just go to our website, that’s the best option.” said David Tucker, the IRS Media Officer for Oregon. He also gave additional advice for people who haven’t filed yet.
Tucker said that the IRS is having delays processing paper tax returns, and recommended for people to file electronically and select direct deposit.
Taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $69,000 or less can use IRS Free File to navigate websites with free tax preparation. People above that income can do their own taxes at Free File Fillable Forms.
For people who habitually owe back taxes, Tucker recommended using the IRS Paycheck Checkup to determine whether there was the correct withholding amount throughout the year.
And finally, “if people come up to the July deadline and find they still need time, they can file for an automatic extension,” Tucker said.
The extension, which goes until Oct. 15, gives individuals more time to file, but the payment deadline is still July 15. To extend, people can file Form 4868 online at IRS.gov, or submit a payment and select Form 4868 as the payment type, and the extension will process when they pay their taxes by July 15.
As for this week’s deadline, Liz Fryer of Watters & Fryer is looking forward to Thursday.
“It’s been great not working overtime,” Fryer said, “but I’m going to be so glad for this to be over.”
But the work won’t really be over for her on July 15. After Wednesday’s deadline, she’ll be back in the office continuing to work on loans and extensions.
“I’ve been doing this for 26 years now, and we thought Snowmageddon was the all-time craziest year we’ve ever had, but wow,” Fryer said. “We never saw this coming.”