Granted, there hasn’t a whole lot of time since tax season ended, but it has been almost a month now, which at least provides enough space to have let some of adrenaline/stress wear off and to start to reflect on it a bit deeper. And it seems no matter what view you reflect from, things did go well.
As we have mentioned recently in this space, the IRS is operating better than it has in a few years, having worked through a backlog of returns and now offering better service for those who need it. As Chad Hooper of Professional Managers Association (a national group of IRS managers) succinctly summarized: "Wait times are down, service levels are up, and return processing is only getting faster.”
From the tax preparer side then, a lot of the hurdles that the agency presented in the last couple years with extended wait times and lower service levels disappeared and made things easier on that side, too. As Tom O’Saben, a director for the National Association of Tax Professionals said: “It was almost like business as usual. That's a lot to be said for the IRS, given the mountain they had to climb. The time to process amended returns for 2021 returns was measured in months — this year it was measured in weeks.”
As some of you read this, though, I am sure you are questioning these pie-in-the-sky assessments. When it comes to a tax return, after all, most don’t care about how the industry or government agencies are faring. All that matters is what your own tax return looked like at the end.
This can feel even more incongruous because some of what made the last few tax seasons so difficult on the agency and tax professionals were changing rules and COVID provisions. And some of what made the last few tax seasons so wonderful for taxpayers were changing rules and COVID provisions.
If you find yourself in the group that is upset over your return then, please realize that this largely was a return to normal. If you take your last few tax returns, next year’s is more likely to look like this year’s than the others. And you may not have the power to bring back some payments and credits you took advantage of during the pandemic, but you do have the power to make choices during the year to make the final number on your return look closer to what you want it to be.
And then next year, when you look back on the tax season that was, everyone can be happy.
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