Remember Bob Dyer, longtime and now retired Beacon Journal columnist?
Dyer, who retired in December 2020, was the Beacon’s “columnist with attitude.”
Dyer is enjoying his retirement. He said he read a lot, played a lot of golf, and had book opportunities on the horizon.
“But I’m just enjoying doing nothing for the first time in 30 years,” he said.
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But he definitely still has an attitude and a new beef – with the IRS.
He and millions of other Americans are still waiting for refunds from the IRS in a backlog since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dyer’s wait was over 16 months for what he calculated to be $1,027 from the IRS and $182 from the State of Ohio.
“Can you imagine how much I would owe the IRS in interest and penalties if I didn’t bother paying them $1,209 for 16 months?” Dyer told me recently.
He tried multiple times to get updates from the IRS over the phone and finally got an agent to say records show his refund was “initiated” on May 7, 2021. He’s still waiting.
In late April, Dyer wrote a letter to the local IRS office in Akron asking for help. He didn’t hear back.
Earlier this month, Dyer sent me an email with the subject line “Dyer v. IRS.”
For longtime Beacon readers, you’ll know that Dyer called himself “your favorite columnist.”
This week, I asked him if he called his “new favorite columnist” for help.
Dyer returned with this line: “I said, of the remaining columnists at the Beacon, I’ll name my all-time favorite remaining columnist. I went to the consumer columnist, who solves so many problems and figured if I’m really in trouble I’ll call Betty and you can quote me.
All kidding aside, I tried contacting the IRS on Dyer’s behalf and got nowhere.
IRS spokesman Bruce Friedland said “federal privacy law prohibits the IRS from commenting on specific taxpayers.”
10.5 million tax returns still pending
I asked Friedland for a general update on the status of delayed returns.
“The IRS is opening the mail within normal timeframes and all individual paper and electronic returns received before October 2021 have been processed if the return did not contain errors or require additional review,” Friedland said in a statement. reply by e-mail.
“As of June 1, 2022, we had 10.5 million unprocessed individual returns, which includes returns received before 2022 and returns for the new tax year 2021.
“Of these, 2 million returns require error correction or special handling, and 8.5 million are paper returns awaiting review and processing. This job does not usually require us to correspond with taxpayers, but does require special handling by an IRS employee. So, in these cases, it takes more than 21 days for the IRS to issue any related refunds, and in some cases, this work can take 90 to 120 days. If a correction is made to a recovery rebate credit, child tax credit, earned income tax credit, or additional child tax credit claimed on the return, the IRS will send an explanation to taxpayers. Taxpayers are encouraged to continue checking online for “Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions”.
Here’s what happened with Dyer:
On February 19, 2021, Dyer filed his federal taxes electronically. He owed $2,559 and mailed a check, which was quickly cashed, he said.
In the summer of 2020, Dyer and other employees at Beacon Journal and Gannett, our parent company, had to take multiple week-long leaves. We applied for unemployment benefits for these weeks off.
On March 11, 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act, which among other things allowed taxpayers to exclude from taxable income up to $10,200 of unemployment benefits paid in 2020 if your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI ) was less than $150,000.
Taxpayers affected by this change have been advised not to change their taxes if they have already filed their return.
The IRS said it will automatically refund money — or apply the refund to tax debts — for people who have already filed their taxes by reporting unemployment compensation as taxable income.
Dyer used a tax program to recalculate what he would have owed the IRS if his unemployment compensation, which was less than the allowed $10,200, would not have been taxable.
It is a substantial sum. He should have paid $1,532 instead of $2,559. He therefore owes $1,027. Once he gets his federal refund back, he can change his Ohio taxes and get a refund of $182 instead of the $5 he paid.
Recently, Dyer attempted to reach the local IRS office with a certified letter with return receipt. He received the receipt in return.
“I didn’t hear a single word,” he said. “They’re sure they didn’t help me. If nothing else, you fire up your email and say, ‘Sorry, we’re late.’ Just tell me something. Don’t just ghost me, for god’s sake.
“I understand that COVID has made everyone’s life more difficult and I understand that the IRS has staffing issues,” he said. “But my God, this thing was initiated, according to an IRS agent, on May 7, 2021. Now it’s June 15, 2022 and it’s just sitting there.
Dyer wants to be clear that even if he wants his money from the IRS, “it’s not going to make or break me.”
“But there are a lot of people who are really living paycheck to paycheck and some of them are struggling to put food on the table. And if that’s the kind of treatment I get, I have to imagine a whole bunch of other people getting the same treatment.
“To me, it’s pretty appalling that such a big agency is now 15 months behind on something they started.”
I asked Dyer if he had tried to find a status on his refund on the IRS’s “Where’s My Refund” online site, www.irs.gov/refunds, as the IRS suggests. He hadn’t, so we went online while talking. But we realized he needed the exact amount of his refund and owed his original tax return. He has an updated figure from his own calculations, but “there’s no way they made that calculation for the website,” he said.
In case you are faced with a dilemma similar to Dyer’s, here is some information provided by the IRS spokesperson on various tax delays:
How long do I have to wait for my tax return?
The IRS understands the importance of processing tax returns and issuing refunds quickly. We have processed all error-free returns received before October 2021 and continue to process returns that require manual review due to errors. We continue to redirect tax returns and taxpayer correspondence from locations that are late to locations where more staff are available, and we are taking other steps to minimize delays.
Tax returns are opened and processed in the order received. As the return is processed, whether filed electronically or on paper, it may be delayed due to error, including errors regarding salvage rebate credit and tax credit. child tax, missing information, or suspected identity theft or fraud. If we can fix it without contacting you, we will. If we need more information or if you need to verify that it was you who sent the tax return, we will write you a letter.
Resolving these issues can take 90-120 days depending on the speed and accuracy of your response, and the ability of IRS staff trained and working within social distancing requirements to complete processing your return.
What should I do if I haven’t received my return yet?
In most cases, no further action is needed, but you can check Where’s my refund? or you can check your account. If you filed your request electronically and received an acknowledgment of receipt, you do not need to do anything other than respond promptly to any request for information. If you filed on paper, check Where is my refund? If it tells you that we have received your return or that we are processing or reviewing it, we are processing your return, but it may be under review.
If you submitted your file before October 2021 and Where is my refund? has no information, your return has been opened but work has not started. We are working hard to complete carry-over inventory.
Please do not file a second tax return or contact the IRS about the status of your return.
What is the IRS status of processing Form 1040-X, Amended Individual Tax Returns?
As of June 4, 2022, we had 2.1 million unprocessed Form 1040-Xs. We process these returns in the order received and work hard to go through the inventory. The current lead time may be longer than 20 weeks instead of 16.
Please do not file a second tax return or contact the IRS about the status of your amended return. Taxpayers should continue to check Where is my amended return?
What is the status of unemployment benefit exclusion corrections?
The IRS continues to review returns for the 2020 tax year and process corrections for taxpayers who paid taxes on unemployment compensation, to exclude compensation from income if eligible .
To date, the IRS has issued more than 11.9 million refunds totaling $14.6 billion. Some taxpayers will receive refunds, while others will see the overpayment applied to taxes owing or other debts.
The IRS will send a letter to affected taxpayers notifying them of the corrections, usually within 30 days of the completion of the corrections. See the 2020 Unemployment Benefit Exclusion FAQ for more information.
Beacon Journal reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected] Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ To see her most recent stories and columns, go to www.tinyurl.com/bettylinfisher