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Get Out Your Records … We’re in Tax Season

January 24, 2017

It's the time of year to get out our paperwork and file taxes again. None of us look forward to this process, but the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) is here to guide us through it.

2017 Changes Tax Filing

DOR has recently announced a few changes to tax filing policies. Even if you’ve been filing taxes in Georgia for decades, take a look to make sure the next few months go smoothly.

Changes for Individuals

All income tax returns will now be held until Feb. 1, 2017. So even if you’ve already filed your taxes, it will still take a little time to hear back. In fact, no matter when or how you file, please allow DOR 90 business days to process your returns. While filing your taxes electronically offers many benefits — including ease and convenience — it will not necessarily speed the process as stated in previous years.

And if you are a first-time filer, or if you haven’t filed taxes in 5 or more years, you’ll get a refund check in the mail.

Changes for Employers

If you are a business owner, make sure that you file your employees’ W-2 information by next Tuesday, Jan. 31. If you miss this deadline, you may face penalties. Keep in mind that by filing your employees’ W-2’s late, you are delaying their tax refunds.

Tax Tips

Much of the tax filing process has stayed the same as always. In case you need a reminder, here are a few tips:

  • Double check all entries, especially name, IDs and addresses.
  • Verify all calculations.
  • Make sure you include all required forms, schedules, certificates and documents.

In general, DOR recommends that you adjust your Federal and State income tax withholdings so that you receive higher paychecks throughout the year rather than a bigger tax refund.

Read more helpful tips and frequently asked questions from DOR.

E-Filing

Though we can’t guarantee a faster turn-around time for filing your taxes electronically, it is still simpler, more secure and more streamlined than paper filing. File online with the Georgia Tax Center.

Some software vendors have partnered with DOR to allow free services to certain Georgia taxpayers. The most common requirement is that your annual gross income fit into a specified range. Save some money this tax season and see if you qualify for any of these programs.

What if I Owe Money on My Taxes?

If you owe a tax debt, you have a few options. See payment options from DOR.

Payment Agreements

If you’re not ready to pay your full liability right away, you might be eligible to set up a payment agreement to settle your debt over a maximum of 60 days. DOR grants payment agreements to both individuals and businesses.

To set up a plan, just request a payment agreement through the Georgia Tax Center with a proposed payment amount and schedule. If DOR accepts your request, you’ll get an approval letter with all the details.

Learn more about the process and fees for setting up a payment agreement.

Failure to Pay

If you fail to pay your tax debt on time, you will be charged an annual interest rate of 6.75%, accruing monthly. This is the 2017 tax season rate that may be adjusted annually.

Are you being penalized for problems outside of your control? In cases of reasonable cause, DOR will grant penalty waivers.

Private Collection Agencies

Your tax debt may be transferred to a private collection agency if your payment is late. You’ll have 45 days after being notified of the transfer to contact DOR and review your payment options before your liability goes to a collection agency.

Protests and Appeals

What can you do when you disagree with what you’re being told you owe? If you need to dispute a proposed assessment or refund denial, you can file a protest online with the Georgia Tax Center or through mail with a Form TSD-1. If you need to dispute an official assessment, the denial of a claim for refund or the issuance of a state tax execution (or lien) you can file an appeal with the Georgia Tax Tribunal or in the appropriate superior court.

Learn more about protests and appeals.

Where’s My Refund?

So you’ve filed your taxes and your expecting your check any day now. Curious about the status of your refund? Find it through the Georgia Tax Center.

Refund Offsets

If you owe money to one of a few specified agencies, money may be taken out of your tax refund to pay your debt; this is known as an offset. You’ll receive a written notice of how much you owe and where it’s going.

If you’re notified of an offset and need more information, contact the appropriate agency over the phone.

Be Aware, Stay Safe

Last year, DOR blocked over $98 million in tax fraud. They’ve implemented a state-of-the-art fraud management system to protect your information and money.

“To combat tax fraud, taxing agencies are taking every action necessary to protect taxpayer dollars and confidential taxpayer information.”
— DOR Commissioner Lynne Riley

Even with the experts doing all they can to protect you, it’s best to stay informed and alert. Sign up for notifications through the Georgia Tax Center to receive an email when a return is filed using your Social Security number. Stay informed with these tax scam tips. Pay careful attention to all paperwork sent your way and know your rights as a taxpayer.

Rachel Hart

About the Author

Rachel Hart is the User Experience Designer for Digital Services Georgia. On Georgia.gov, she makes government material approachable with writing, infographics, videos, and other imagery.

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