tax tips — March 20, 2017

5 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Taxes

by Susannah McQuitty

A young woman leaning against a wall and smiling at her phone.

You know tax time is full of collecting W-2s, cashing in on the best credits and deductions, and finishing in one sitting when you file with What you don’t know is how long the tax code is (and it’s shocking!), whether moving to another state will get you a bigger refund, or whether the IRS will ever actually hit up your smartphone.

These interesting facts highlight what many of us never knew about tax season, so take a break from filling out those forms to learn more.

1. The IRS tax code is really, really long.

The IRS tax code is 70,000+ pages long – just one more reason to find a high-quality program to file with, like If you have a complicated return and don’t have the time, patience or energy to brush up on your tax know-how, find a professional tax preparer. A good one usually saves you as you much as you pay them.

2. And the tax code changes – A LOT.

The tax code changes, on average, more than once a day. According to the Huffington Post, since 2001, there have been more than 4,500 changes to the tax code.

3. Each state gets you about the same refund amount.

Many things vary greatly from state to state, including income, cost of living and much more. One thing that doesn’t change much: the average tax refund. The national average is $2,860, and that stays almost exactly the same across the board, no matter which state you call home.

A blue water bottle and matching sunglasses on pebbles

4. You can claim your tax refund up to 3 years late.

The good news: You can claim a tax refund within three years of the tax year in question. The bad news: If you don’t file a tax return within the allowed three-year window (for most taxpayers), any refund money you might have gotten goes into the U.S. Treasury. In April 2016, 950 million dollars in 2012 federal tax refunds sat unclaimed by taxpayers who didn’t file a return. That's why it's so important to file – you might have refund money about to be recycled into the treasury.

5. Safety tip – Electronic personal information requests are never from the IRS.

It’s important to be aware of scammers that might call, text, or email claiming to be the IRS. With some awareness, you can help protect yourself from scams and tax-related identity theft. The IRS will never call you and demand immediate payment of taxes owed nor will they call you without having mailed you first. In addition, you can always question or appeal the amount they say you owe. If you get a suspicious call, and think you might owe taxes, call the IRS. If you know you don’t owe taxes, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and has worked in a variety of roles in both big and small organizations. She now does small business consulting and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also shared her business insights on StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for more small business tips and ideas




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