The calendar says it's July, but a date typically associated with April is nearly upon us.
Both federal and California state income tax returns are due Wednesday, July 15. Authorities pushed back the deadline as it initially fell during the pandemic surge that continues to grip much of the U.S. Both the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and California Franchise Tax Board have said there will not be another delay.
It's not just taxpayers who owe Uncle Sam and the state who haven't filed yet. Earlier this month, the IRS said it was still sitting on more than $1.5 billion in unclaimed tax refunds.
Whatever the reason, if you're among the taxpayers who still hasn't filed, your first action should be a visit to IRS.gov. The website has many resources and answers to common questions. If you owe this year, you can also use IRS.gov to file a request for an extension, or set up a payment plan. There's even an Interactive Tax Assistant, a tool that aims to help with many issues that may come up.
The IRS created a selection of last-minute tax tips, which you can find here.
If you're looking for more traditional help in person or over the phone, your options are limited. IRS offices are closed because of the pandemic, and the agency says its phone lines are receiving heavy call volume. If you still need help by phone, you can try these numbers for the Taxpayer Advocate Service, which is an independent customer service branch of the IRS:
- Oakland: 510-907-5269
- San Jose: 408-283-1500
- National: 877-777-4778
Watch Out for Tax Scams and Fraud
As a three-month grace period for filing income tax returns ends this week, crooks and con artists are adjusting their schedules, too.
Scammers typically aim to either trick you into believing you owe a late tax payment, often with the threat of imminent arrest; or, they may claim your refund has been held up, and ask for access to your bank account. These crooks contact their victims mostly by phone, using spoofed caller ID, or with a disguised email that may look like it came from the IRS.
Ryan Kalember, an executive with Sunnyvale-based cyber-security firm Proofpoint, says the same advice we've heard for years still holds true.
“The IRS will never call you," Kalember said. "The IRS will never send you a text. The IRS will never send you an email. So, if any of those things ever arrive in your inbox, voicemail box, or on your phone, simply do not engage.”
While that may seem obvious to many of us, it's often older taxpayers who fall for these schemes. It's a good idea to remind the seniors in your life that the IRS will never call, text, or email for any reason, and that it doesn't accept payments in the form of gift cards -- the preferred currency of many scammers.
If you believe you've been targeted by tax fraud, you can report it to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).