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Some critical info that could increase your tax refund or decrease the chance that your return gets rejected

The IRS is expecting a "challenging" year. It's more important than usual to avoid mistakes.

DALLAS — I thought my pile of unread mail was bad (actually it is). But the IRS has a mountain of mail. 

I told you not long ago about how the tax agency abandoned the office during much of the pandemic, so they still have to get through millions of paper returns from prior years that stacked up.

And now they’re also trying to process this year’s tax returns. That’s why they keep advising you to file electronically and opt for refunds with direct deposit.

If your 2020 taxes still haven't been processed, and you’re trying to do your 2021 taxes electronically now… you will be asked for your adjusted gross income (AGI) from your 2020 taxes before you can hit send for your 2021 taxes. 

This is key: If you kept that AGI number handy, don’t type it in. If your 2020 taxes still haven’t been processed, put zero dollars in that blank. Pay attention to the tan box at the top of this webpage.

Also, we talked before about this: If you received last year’s COVID-19 economic recovery stimulus payment, or any advance child tax credit payments, you should get a letter from the IRS. In fact, you should probably have gotten it by now. 

The correspondence details how much you received so you can get those numbers right on your return. If you don’t get the math right, expect your return to get kicked back to you. And then you might be added to the dreaded backlog. 

If you didn’t get those letters, you can also check your numbers by creating an online account with the IRS.

But logging in lately has taken some patience. And even though the tax workload is enormous, the IRS is encouraging some people who don’t usually file returns to go ahead and do it this time, because you have to file to get some of the extended tax benefits available this year. 

By not filing you may be missing out on money you were eligible to receive.