It's April, but the pandemic has shifted the tax focus this year from filing, which has a new July 15 deadline, to the coronavirus economic relief payments.
Still, if you're due a refund — and yes, some folks who get tax money back still dally when it comes to sending in their returns — you might want to go ahead and get to work on that 1040.
The main reason to file is that you'll get your 2019 tax year refund. That's not going to happen until the Internal Revenue Service gets your paperwork.
Plus, the direct deposit info you include on your return could help the agency, which is administering the COVID-19 payments, know exactly where to send your virus-related money, too.
Fewer folks filing: It looks like, however, that most folks are not in a hurry to deal with taxes, even if their looking for a diversion as they stay home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The IRS' latest 2020 filing season statistics, which, by the way, are for the week ending March 27, the day the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act became law, show that it has received just more than 90.6 million returns.
That's a 2.4 percent drop from the number of filings during the late-March time period in 2019.
By the end of March, the agency had processed 87 million 2019 tax year returns. That's 3.6 percent fewer than the prior year.
Hey, I'm not blaming or judging. People are more important than taxes. But I wanted to share the info in case you're wondering why you're not getting necessarily good news via Where's My Refund? about the statue of your filing.
Be patient. They'll get to it, and all of them as quickly and safely as they can.
More DIY filings, IRS.gov clicks: A few data points, however, are up in 2020 when compared to last year's filing season.
More taxpayers are doing their taxes themselves via their computers or other electronic devices. The IRS says the number of sell-prepared e-filed returns hit must more than 41 million last month, up 3 percent from last year.
And visits to IRS.gov have exploded, again likely due to temporary closure of IRS taxpayer service offices as way to stop possible person-to-person COVID-19 transmission.
Plus folks, even if they're sitting at home and looking for some way to pass the time, don't really view being on hold with the IRS telephone help line as a fun way to while away some minutes, or more.
That probably explains the almost 395 million online tax web page visits, an increase of more than 10 percent over the IRS.gov clicks at this point in 2019.
Biggest and best of all are refunds: Then there are the tax refunds. There is good news for the fewer folks who have filed so far this year.
While the overall number of tax refunds and those that are directly deposited are both down through this March, 2.5 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively, the amounts of the average refunds in those categories are larger this year.
The overall average refund by the end of March was $2,908. That's 1.2 percent more than the $2,873 refund amount at this point in 2019.
Directly deposited amounts in the year's first quarter are even better. Refunds heading straight into bank accounts came to an average of $3,058. That's 2.1 percent more than last year's $2,995 directly deposited refunds.
That's also notable enough to earn that three-grand-plus direct deposit amount this week's By the Numbers honor.
File now for more money: Note, too, that both the overall average and direct deposit average refund amounts are more than the maximum base COVID-19 relief amounts.
Those top out (not counting any extra due to dependent children) at $1,200 for single filers and $2,400 for married couples filing jointly.
Of course, your tax refund mileage may vary. But if the pandemic has taken a toll on your income and you're expecting to get any money back from Uncle Sam in connection with your 2019 return, file now. Every dollar helps when you're in a financial crunch.
|Coronavirus Caveat & More Information
In 2020, we're all dealing with extraordinary circumstances,
both in our daily lives and when it comes to our taxes.
The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to reduce its transmission
and protect ourselves and our families means that,
for the most part, we're focusing on just getting through these trying days.
But life as we knew it before the coronavirus will return,
along with our mundane tax matters.
Here's hoping that happens soon!
In the meantime, you can find more on the virus and its effects on our taxes
by clicking Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Taxes.
You also might find these items of interest:
- 5 tax tips for Free File users
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Taxes special information page
- 6 things that could delay the arrival or lower the amount of your tax refund