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Data entry error behind Mass DOR tax notices

Getting mail from the IRS or Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) is usually not a good thing. It can be tough to open the letter.

When the notice lists a tax deficiency, where do you start to resolve the issue? For a number of Massachusetts residents it turned out a data entry error in TaxAct software was to blame for the tax deficiency notices. Because their tax payments were applied to the wrong years, the DOR notices were a mistake.

How does this type of error happen?

Apparently, TaxAct software incorrectly coded the payment vouchers for about 2,000 taxpayers. The checks contained the wrong year - 2017 instead of 2016. The issue affected about five percent of those who used TaxAct software to file a state return.

TaxAct receives specifications for state tax return forms prior to updating its software each year. A data entry mistake in the barcode was all it took to cause the confusion. Unfortunately, Mass DOR did not catch it during a review of the software.

The state agency estimated that about 50 taxpayers had paid the tax bills. These individuals should receive a refund and maybe already have as we write this post.

While tax software companies usually wait to the last minute to obtain approval from local tax authorities, the president and CEO if the Massachusetts Society of CPAs stated that Mass DOR should still be able to detect a mistake. With more automation, additional checks may be needed.

When you receive a notice from either the IRS or the DOR, you should talk with a tax professional before paying the listed amount. Errors occur. On a small amount, you might wonder if it is worth the bother to spend the time and effort to uncover an error. Often these issues are broader than your situation and without asking questions they can keep happening.

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