Tax Filing Season Begins Jan. 24: Tips for Working with Consumers

The IRS has released its schedule for the 2022 tax filing season, which can help members plan best practices for working with consumers who will use tax refunds to manage their debts.

01/12/2022 11:45 A.M.

4 minute read

Consumers may begin filing their 2021 taxes on Monday, Jan. 24, which the Internal Revenue Service reports will allow the agency time to perform programming and testing to help their systems run smoothly.

“Planning for the nation’s filing season process is a massive undertaking, and IRS teams have been working non-stop these past several months to prepare,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a news release from the IRS. “The pandemic continues to create challenges, but the IRS reminds people there are important steps they can take to help ensure their tax return and refund don’t face processing delays. Filing electronically with direct deposit and avoiding a paper tax return is more important than ever this year. And we urge extra attention to those who received an Economic Impact Payment or an advance Child Tax Credit last year. People should make sure they report the correct amount on their tax return to avoid delays.”

  • The IRS encourages everyone to have all the information they need on hand so they file a complete and accurate return. Having an accurate tax return can help you avoid processing delays, refund delays and later IRS notices.
  • This is especially important for people who received advance Child Tax Credit payments or Economic Impact Payments (American Rescue Plan stimulus payments) in 2021; they will need the amounts of these payments when preparing their tax return.
  • The IRS is mailing special letters to recipients, and they can also check amounts received on IRS.gov.
  • Like last year, there will be individuals filing tax returns who, even though they are not required to file, need to file a 2021 return to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit to receive the tax credit from the 2021 stimulus payments or reconcile advance payments of the Child Tax Credit. People who don’t normally file also could receive other credit.

Tax Deadline Countdown

The deadline to submit 2021 tax returns or an extension to file and pay tax owed is April 18 for most taxpayers. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 17, 2022, to file.

While tax season is starting this month, which is earlier than in past years, U.S. Department of the Treasury officials have said that there may be delays in refunds and other taxpayer services, according to The Washington Post.

Delays are expected due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, IRS budget cuts and federal stimulus actions that have increased the agency’s workload.

There are still millions of unprocessed returns as of Dec. 23, 2021, according to The Washington Post report.

Treasury officials encourage taxpayers to file their returns online at IRS.gov and as early as possible.

ARM Industry Best Practices

Tax season started in February last year, meaning accounts receivable management (ARM) industry professionals now have a few extra weeks to review their best practices for working with consumers and add any updates based on the new IRS schedule.

Tax season is an opportunity to work with consumers who often want to use their tax refund to help pay past-due bills.

Debt collectors should also continue to consider extra hardships consumers may be facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but a friendly reminder about how their tax refund, if available, can be used to pay down debts can be helpful.

Many debt collection agencies encourage their collectors to bring up tax refunds during conversations with consumers. Try asking, “Are you expecting a tax refund this year?” or “Have you thought about using your tax refund to pay this?”

Members can also take this time to inform clients of their best practices.

ACA offers education on tax season collection strategies.

In a Jan. 11 seminar, Irene Hoheusle, vice president of collections and education at Account Recovery Specialists Inc., CCCO, IFCCE, discussed how to maneuver a conversation with a consumer so that you are ready for anything—even when you aren’t—and how to develop a stronger bond in the few minutes you have with the consumer.

A recording of this seminar—available at no extra charge for All-Access Training Zone subscribers—will be available on ACA’s website here.

ACA’s next Hot Topic seminar specifically for collectors, 2 p.m. CST Feb. 8, “How to Talk to People That Hate You,” will provide new ways to engage consumers with kindness, humility and grace, which can be especially helpful during tax season.

Check out our complete Education & Events calendar for more learning opportunities.

Here are a few tips for working with consumers during tax season:

  • Train your team on key tax filing dates and deadlines, including when consumers can begin filing.
  • Include this information on a tax-time staff fact sheet, which can also list the income threshold for free electronic filing at IRS.gov.
  • When speaking with consumers about tax refunds, keep communications positive and focus on finding solutions.

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