The Internal Revenue Service has announced that it will begin accepting federal returns on Jan. 29, one week later than last year, to ensure the security and readiness of its tax processing systems and to assess the potential impact of recent federal tax legislation on 2017 returns. Tax returns are processed by the IRS before they are released to states. The Vt. Department of Taxes is ready to begin processing returns immediately upon receipt starting on Jan. 29.
This year’s tax due date is Tuesday, April 17. Based on the volume of last year’s returns, the department expects to process about 385,000 personal income tax returns this year.
The department provides detailed “2018 Filing Season Updates” on its website at https://tax.vermont.gov/individual/filing-season-update. The following are highlights:
Tax Commissioner Kaj Samsom is working with other states, legislative partners, and local accounting professionals to evaluate the impact of federal tax reform on Vermont taxpayers. On Jan. 2, the department sponsored a federal tax reform panel to bring members of those groups together and publicly discuss the issues. A video of the panel discussion is available at tax.vermont.gov.
As long as fraudsters continue to steal identities and money through new and creative means, the department will continue its vigilance to detect and stop identity theft and tax refund fraud. This may delay some refunds. If the department sends a taxpayer a letter requesting verification of a return or more information, including supporting documents, a prompt response will help to avoid further delay.
Vermonters can improve their own refund turnaround time by e-filing, confirming their bank account and address information before filing, avoiding unnecessary changes to their direct deposit bank account, and using software to eliminate errors.
The department has made many adjustments to its refund processing and expects improved turnaround times for e-filed returns. Taxpayers who e-file generally receive refunds faster than those who file on paper.
The department is also emphasizing the Jan. 31 due date for employers to file W-2 information with the state. Filing this information electronically by the due date prevents a frequent source of refund delay. “Fabricated W-2 information is a favorite tactic of fraudsters. Having increased compliance with the Jan. 31 filing deadline, and increased e-filing of W-2 reconciliations really helps the department prevent fraud and get refunds out the door faster,” said Director of Taxpayer Services Sharon Asay.
Last year, about 65 percent of Vermont taxpayers qualified to file their federal and state income taxes through Free File, but only about 2 percent of those eligible used this free online filing service. Taxpayers with low to moderate incomes may also take advantage of free assistance though the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs, the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program, and the MyFreeTaxes Partnership. More information on these free programs is available at tax.vermont.gov.