Tax Attic: Review of the tax season

I equate the opening day of spring, March 20, with the opening day of the baseball season. Its time to start paying attention to what is going on outside and that includes baseball under the sun. The Detroit Tigers play their first game of the season on Thursday, March 29 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. This season is the same length as last year in that the Tigers will once again play 162 games. What will be different is that a number of the players are different. For example, last year’s best pitcher, Justin Verlander, will be playing in Houston while Jordan Zimmerman, a nice guy but not always a good pitcher, will be this year’s opening day pitcher. The Tigers did hire a respected and experienced manager in Ron Gardenhire. In order for them to have a have a good season, it might help if he is also becomes a magician so he can pull a rabbit or two out of his hat from time to time. In Detroit’s previous 116 seasons, that magic has occurred from time to time. The Tigers were an inaugural member of the American League in 1901. In all of those seasons, they have had many ups and downs. One of the highest ups happened 50 seasons ago when the 1968 Tigers defeated the St. Louis Cardinals to win their first World Championship up to that point, in my lifetime. Actually, before my time, they had also beaten the Cubs in 1945 and also, before that, in 1935. I can remember most of that 1968 series like it was yesterday. No one gave Detroit much of a chance against the Cardinals led by the best pitcher not just in the National League but in all of baseball, Bob Gibson. No one really gave them any chance at all when they fell behind 3 games to 1 and, in the process, lost two games to Gibson. They faced the daunting task of trying to beat Gibson in the 7th and deciding game if they even made it to the 7th game. Well, the stars lined up and the moon turned blue and a couple of miracles did occur. Detroit did make it to the 7th game and they did beat Gibson. What a day! However, it seems like the Tigers are entitled to only one such miracle every 117 years and they might have used this 117 years’ worth 50 years ago. Hope does spring eternal, especially in baseball, so the hope is always there for a successful season. However, it’s probably going to be tough for them to keep from losing 90 plus games. In fact, if the Tigers win a World Series this year, that miracle might rival the one that occurred a couple of thousand years ago in Jerusalem.

Let’s do a quick review of the tax season as seen via the latest Internal Revenue Service’s statistics for the 2018 filing season through the week ending March 2. Through that date this year, they had processed 61,150,000 returns; a small increase of 87,000 from 2017. The average refund this year is slightly larger this year; $3,046 up from $3,016 last year. 48,452,000 of the 61,150,000 returns processed had refunds. As a percentage of total returns, that refund percentage will get smaller as we close in on April 17 because those with balance dues typically file later in the tax season. 29,106,000 returns were self-prepared. That is a large increase of 964,000 from 28,142,000 in 2017. Returns prepared professionally are down 605,000 from 29,293,000 down to 28,688,000. Apparently, H&R Block’s advertising was more effective last year. Realistically, the professionally prepared return percentage also goes up as we work our way through the tax season because the returns submitted by tax preparers tend to be a little more difficult or interesting, depending on your perspective. It will particularly interesting to see how the Tax Cuts and Job Act Bill affects all of these numbers next year. I can hardly wait! Of course, we get to live through the miracle coming in Detroit this summer and fall before next year’s tax season comes around. Did I add that all baseball fans are optimistic through the first pitch of the season? Then reality may begin to set in. I can hardly wait for that first pitch. This is Jerry Coon signing off.

 

Jerry Coon is an Enrolled Agent.

He owns Action Tax Service on Northland Dr in Rockford.

Contact Jerry at www.actiontaxservice.com.