BUSY SEASON BAROMETER:
How accountants are battling the Coronavirus recession
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By Beth Bellor
With less than a month to go before 2020’s extended tax deadline, the grind continues.
MORE: Tax Pro E-Filings Down 20 Percent | IRS Web Traffic Doubles over Year-Ago | COVID Drowns IRS in New Filings | 2020 Tax Season Comes to a Screeching Halt | The Tax Season 2020 Dumpster Fire | Tax Pros Fall Behind 6.2% in Returns Filed
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And the question is: Where are 10 million tax returns that should have been filed by now by professionals?
Are they sitting on desks, in files, and on the computers of the nation’s tax practitioners?
Or have they been forever lost to do-it-yourself taxpayers?
Have those taxpayers disappeared with the 40 million jobs lost in the COVID recession?
Will the tax business make up for lost ground with less than four weeks to go in the COVID-extended season?
The questions are troubling. And the answers may be more so. Do the math: it’ll take another 8 million tax returns to match last year’s IRS intake. How many of those will be done by professionals? And how many will be done by DIY taxpayers?
Does it signal a tidal shift in the bread-and-butter business of the accounting profession?
The IRS had received 136.5 million individual income tax returns as of the week ending June 12, the latest data available, down 5.3 percent from the same period in 2019. It had processed 124.6 million returns, down 12.2 percent.
The agency had processed 91.3 percent of returns received.
A total of 124 million returns had been filed electronically, down 4.4 percent. Of those, 63.1 million were prepared by tax professionals, down 13.8 percent, and self-preparers handled 60.9 million, up 7.7 percent.
The pros processed 50.9 percent of e-filings.
Visits to IRS.gov numbered 1.28 million, up 159.8 percent.
Refunds numbered 92.2 million, down 11.8 percent, in the total amount of $255 billion, down 10.7 percent. The average refund of $2,767 was up 1.2 percent.
Direct deposit refunds numbered 76.7 million, down 13.4 percent, in the total amount of $223 billion, down 12.5 percent. The average direct deposit refund of $2,907 was up 1 percent.