Identity theft has become a serious problem and fraudsters have used stolen identities to file false tax returns and claim refunds before the rightful filers can do so. Even children’s Social Security numbers are being targeted.
Tax season officially starts Feb. 12 and you have until April 15 to file and pay taxes owed. But there’s a wrinkle this year and it has to do with coming stimulus payments. Lawmakers are still negotiating the details of a third stimulus plan, including how much Americans should get in this round. One proposal would send $1,400 payments to individuals earning up to $75,000 a year and couples earning $150,000 a year. Another proposal aimed to slash that benefit to $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for married couples. Whatever the final number ends up being, the government will determine whether you get a check based on your adjusted gross income — from the 2019 or 2020 tax year. If you haven’t yet filed your 2020 taxes, the government will use your 2019 income to determine your eligibility to get a stimulus payment. For people who had a worse 2020 than 2019 — a job loss or hit to income — filing a 2020 return quickly would be a good idea. If the government has your 2019 return, it might miss the fact that you’ve been struggling and are eligible for stimulus. People should be determining whether they should file or not, It would be a mistake for any person to file their 2020 tax return at this time if their 2020 income is higher than 2019. Since so many people rely on tax refunds to cover living expenses, it will be hard on them not to file and most may go forward and file and lose out on part of their third stimulus.