Tax season is in full swing, and this year filers are more confused than ever, which means more work for accountants.
To address questions about the new changes and tax preparation in general, we held a special live tax prep Q&A session this week, with CPAs Meisa Bonelli and John Lieberman on hand to address concerns.
And there were a lot of them. In a recent survey of more than 6,000 Yahoo Finance viewers who are preparing for tax season, 57% said they have not started filing their taxes yet. Considering the new tax laws that are taking effect this year, 54% reported that they did not have a clear understanding of the new tax law. And when it comes to their refunds, about a third expected to receive one, but just 20% expected it to be bigger than their refund from last year.
“The biggest impact is because of changes to the withholding tax table,” Lieberman explains.
“It’s very hard to save money, and a lot of people use the IRS as their piggy bank,” he says. “So while the tables may have been accurate, in the past people had $10, $20, $30 a week withheld, and now they expect to get a $1,500 refund. However, this time they’re not getting it, and in a lot of cases they actually owe money, which is very difficult for them.”
Bonelli is seeing concerns for both individuals and business owners.
“Clients are concerned about how they can take advantage of the most deductions,” Bonelli says. “They’re concerned about, ‘Am I going to have to owe throughout the year?’”
“On the other side of the fence, small business clients are really looking to maximize the tax changes,” she says. “So the biggest one that stands out is they’re looking to see how they can take advantage of that 20% tax deduction for service businesses.”
Lieberman, who jokes that he’s receiving about 400 emails an hour at this point in the filing season, says that January’s government shutdown isn’t helping matters.
“A lot of the concerns are about the processes and procedures,” he says. “The shutdown really affected everybody. People are uncertain, and we’re trying our best to alleviate that concern but also try to get the work out at the same time.”
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter.