I remember when…
This will be a year that tax pros will remember for a long time. Whether we are chatting online on a forum or having a drink together at a conference, tax season 2013 will come up. Some newbie will complain about an inconvenience or a strange procedure and those of us who have been in the business for a while will mention all the changes and procedures we have seen; doing returns by hand and paper filing them, putting client info on data entry sheets and waiting for a printed return (corrections had to be sent back), installing our tax software from a stack of small floppy disks, and tax season 2013…
What a year!
We begin with Congress putting off dealing with expiring tax provision until after the first of the year. This was despite two warnings from the IRS that Congressional delay could cause the start of tax season to be delayed. And it was. Originally, electronic filing was to begin on January 22nd but the start was pushed back to January 30th. Even then, we had forms that couldn’t be filed. Two major forms (4561 and 8863) couldn’t file until mid-February. It was March before we could file all returns.
Because of the delays, no Feb. 29th, and the season actually ending on April 15th, there were fewer filing days in 2013. This made for a more intensive 3 months and the most hectic season end that I have ever seen.
A minor inconvenience was the lack of a refund chart. For years, the IRS had given preparers a chart which gave up a refund target date based on when the return was electronically accepted. With the expansion of Modernized e-File and CADE2, there was no way to know how fast the refund would come back. Clients told me of IRS refunds in 4 days to 10 days.
The big tax software companies had their issues in 2013. Minnesota had issues with how Turbo Tax was handling items on the state return and banned the software until TT resolved the problem. Then the IRS announced that 10% of returns with Form 8863 (Education Tax Credits) were delayed because of errors on the form. H&R Block was the biggest culprit because of the way their software was handling the new check boxes.
On April, 10 the IRS took the Modernized e-File system down for maintenance. Not something you want to do to stressed tax pros needing to file returns and extensions. Even after the system was back up, there were delays getting acknowledgements for the filed returns.
Then at 6pm on April 15th, I couldn’t get my last few returns to file. Drake Software was having connectivity issues. I ended sitting around the office, reading a book, and attempting to file the returns every 15 minutes or so. Finally about 9:30pm, they went through. I wasn’t too worried since all my extensions had been filed earlier in the day and most of the returns were refunds but it wasn’t how I wanted to spend the evening.
Factor in some really crazy weather, Tax Season 2013 will be one will be talking about for years to come. Maybe we should get tee-shirts that say “I Survived Tax Season 2013”.