CHICAGO (CBS) — Tax day is a week away, and despite three extra months to file returns this year, many people still haven’t filed.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas tells you what you need to know if you’re cutting it close.READ MORE: At Least 22 People Shot, 3 Killed In Gun Violence In Chicago This Weekend
The July 15th tax day extension allowed for individuals and businesses some extra time to pay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it turns out many people expecting a refund haven’t filed yet.
“The IRS has only issued about 94 million refunds so far, which is down more than 10%,” said Andy Phillips, the director at the Tax Institute at H&R Block
Phillips said there are two reasons for the wait.
“It’s really just, you know, simple procrastination,” he said.
“They don’t feel safe going somewhere to file their taxes,” he said.
That’s why many tax-preparation companies, like H&R Block, have created solutions to try to keep taxpayers safe while getting help filling out their returns.
“We’ve employed a variety of safety measures to make sure that they can come in and still feel safe, thinking about just adhering to the social distancing guidelines of keeping everyone six feet away from each other,” Phillips said.
H&R Block also offers fully virtual options.READ MORE: Car Falls Off Stevenson Expressway Onto Cicero Avenue When Driver Loses Control
Phillips said it’s best to file taxes electronically, because there’s a huge backlog of paper returns.
“As of mid-May, what was publicly shared was that there were nearly 5 million pieces of unopened mail, or paper tax returns,” he said.
Filing online means you’ll receive a refund in about two weeks. Snail mail can take months.
Phillips also has advice for those who owe money.
“Even if you don’t have enough money to pay your full, or any of your balance due to the IRS, file something,” he said.
That’s because there are large penalties for not filing on time.
“The problem is not going to go away; and, so, procrastination is not the answer,” Phillips said.
If you can’t pay in full, you can request a payment plan to avoid penalties.
“The important thing now is to act,” Phillips said.
July 15th is also the deadline to file Illinois state taxes, or to file a claim for an unclaimed federal refund from tax year 2016.MORE NEWS: Suspect In Custody In Violent Robbery Of Woman At Racine CTA Blue Line Stop, Another Robbery
Phillips said the U.S. Treasury has over $1 billion in unclaimed refunds from 2016. So, if you think you’ve left some money on the table, now’s the time to claim it.