Bethlehem Press

Sunday, May 31, 2020
Me and the IRS Me and the IRS


Thursday, March 5, 2020 by by LANI GOINS in Opinion

I pay to have my taxes done. Why? Because doing them makes me nervous. Some time ago, I missed a digit on an efiled return and was shocked to get a tax bill in the mail until I went back and discovered my error. And after I was separated, I was able to claim “Head of Household.” That was new to me, and I wanted professional guidance.

Like most people, I don’t like taxes. BHut there’s something about them I like less than doing them; a provision of the PATH Act. Passed in 2015, the act was meant to do several things, including preserving some tax cuts, and to help combat fraud.

As part of the PATH Act, low income taxpayers who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit must wait up to three weeks longer for their refunds than filers who cannot claim it. Also, when I first filed for the EITC, I had to provide plenty of documentation. The EITC is worth up to $3,568, depending on filing status, or as little as $350.

The EITC has been proven to have put more single mothers in the workforce, although for me, matters of healthcare and income were more pertinent. I was already working when I was separated, I just sought a position with healthcare and a steadier income.

The issue I have with the PATH Act is it is inherently unfair to make the poorest citizens wait the longest for their tax refunds. I acknowledge there is a good deal of tax fraud, and the IRS is tasked with finding it on a limited budget. But the greatest tax cheats in America are not low income citizens. Many tax cheaters are the wealthy who try to conceal their income, resulting in tax evasion.

Instead of trying to fine tooth comb 25 million tax returns of the country’s lowest earners, perhaps the focus should be on the high earning tax cheats. Just a thought.

Someday (my goal is three years from now), I plan to earn enough to not even qualify for the EITC.

My tax preparer looked carefully at my documents and noted that my refund was going to be lower than last year for two reasons. I only have one dependent now, and I am earning more income, thanks to writing. I’m proud of this, both for the income and because writing is a passion for me.

My preparer kindly suggested I have more withheld from my day job, to result in a higher tax refund next year. I did change my withholding slightly, but the IRS already holds my refund. Why should I give more to get more much later? It doesn’t compute. And waiting extra long for my refund (all of it, not just the part covered by the EITC) is unpleasant and borders on a hardship. That provision of the PATH Act? PATHetic.