Taxes are due April 15, regardless of the budget cuts known as sequestration.
The cuts will not have an impact on the IRS until after the deadline, if at all, IRS officials said during an interview while stopping in Park City recently. They said people should prepare their taxes and send their payments as they normally would.
And preparing their taxes should be a similar process to past years. Bill Brunson, one of the IRS officials who visited recently, said there were not significant changes to the rules impacting the 2012 tax year.
"It's status quo, pretty much," he said, adding," For your average Park City resident, it's going to be pretty much status quo."
People preparing their taxes should gather wage and tax statements, mortgage information, charitable donation figures, a copy of the previous year's tax returns and other necessary documentation, such as statements that independent contractors need. Extensions must be requested by midnight on April 15.
It will not be until the 2013 tax year when some of the major alterations in tax laws will be in place, such as the creation of a new bracket and the increase in taxes on capital gains.
The IRS, meanwhile, is combating identity fraud. Brunson said the average wait time for tax refunds to be deposited directly into a bank account of someone who electronically files their taxes has climbed to 21 days. It took 10 days or fewer two years ago, he said. The longer wait, Brunson said, is attributed to the efforts to thwart identity fraud.
The officials who visited said the IRS, nationally, tripled the number of enforcement actions against identity fraud between October and December 2012 compared to the same period the previous year.
They said people should protect themselves against identity fraud using steps like:
The IRS offers three taxpayer assistance centers in the region. One is in downtown Salt Lake City, at 50 South 200 East, while the others are in Ogden and Provo. The Salt Lake City office is open Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
The agency also offers assistance through a toll-free telephone line, 1-800-829-1040. The line offers an option for Spanish speakers. The IRS officials who visited were unsure whether Spanish speakers were available at the taxpayer assistance centers. Information is also available on the IRS website, www.irs.gov. There is a Spanish-language option on the front page of the website.
The IRS also offers free help in preparing tax returns for people who qualify. They include a volunteer program for people who earn $51,000 or less and one for people who are 60 years old or older. Information is available at 1-800-906-9887.