KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jan. 24, the official start of the tax season this year, is right around the corner. As the deadline looms, local tax professionals have a message for taxpayers: “Don’t panic, prepare.”

“Last year was a nightmare,” said Michael Martin with Martin and Associates Tax and Financial Services.

The IRS said tax filings for 2021 will be “frustrating” after the agency discovered a backlog of about 6 million filings. That’s compared to about a million the year before.

Martin says while the IRS may be behind, taxpayers can’t afford to be.

“Some people say, ‘Well I’m not going to file this year since I didn’t do last year.’ Don’t do that,” he said.  

He said taxpayers must keep things like stimulus payments, child tax payments and rebates from last year in mind when filing.

“Get the information ready, gather what you have to get ready by the 24th. Make sure you have your income info, statements from your bank,” Martin said.

Taxpayers, however, should be sure to do it on time. For now, unlike last year, there is no extension. The tax deadline is April 18.

Julie Riddle, with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program in Johnson County, said they expect to be busy with many questions from taxpayers.

Due to COVID-19, the program, which helps taxpayers with middle to low incomes, will be virtual this year. Riddle said that will make it a little harder for volunteers, but they’re prepared.

“We are absolutely ready to take on this challenge,” she said. “[However] if we are working virtually for the whole season, that means we will have limited capacity.”

As the days lead up to the start of tax season, tax professionals said filing may be a tough game, but taxpayers still have time to make sure their annual package to Uncle Sam is as accurate as possible.

“It’s going to be really frustrating for people, but it’s what we have to deal with,” Martin said.

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