When filing their taxes, some people have tax questions that they’re too embarrassed to ask because they think they’re too simple. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, many of these common questions are extremely important to avoid making mistakes that could result in stiff penalties from the IRS.

It’s important that anyone filing taxes understands what they’re doing and the consequences of their mistakes. The easiest way to avoid these problems is to come into G.I. Tax and allow our professionals to guide you through the process. Here are six common questions that people fail to ask.

Do I have to file a tax return?

More than likely you’ll be required to file a tax return. The only situation where you’re not required to file a tax return is if your income for a given year is less than your personal exemption plus your standard deduction. Both of these are determined by your marital status and your age.

For most people, if you made more than $23,100 the previous year, you will be required to file. However, even if you made less than that, you still might want to file as you could be owed a refund because too much tax could have been withheld from your paycheck or you may be entitled to a refundable tax break such as an Earned Income Tax Credit which pays money to those filers that are qualified even if the credit exceeds their tax bill.

When will I receive my refund?

Most people who file will receive a refund and will receive that refund within 21 days of the date they filed. The IRS has a tool on their website called Where’s My Refund? as well as a mobile app called IRS2Go. You can use these tools to check the status of your refund. If you electronically filed your tax return, it will take 24 hours before you can start tracking your refund. If you mailed in a paper return, you should be able to check the status of your return within four weeks. Once the refund is approved, the IRS will give you a personalized refund date which can be seen through these tools.

You may think that contacting the IRS will speed up the process of receiving your refund but it won’t. IRS phone and walk-in representatives can’t research the status of an electronically submitted refund until it’s been 21 days at which point you likely would have already received the refund. For those that mailed in a paper return, they won’t be able to see your status until six weeks after you’ve filed.

Can the IRS withhold my refund?

The IRS can withhold your refund under four circumstances; if you’re behind in paying federal student loans, behind in child support payments, behind in paying state income taxes, or if you received too much government subsidy to buy health insurance on a federal or state exchange. In these four situations, the IRS can withhold your refund until the matter has been resolved.

What if I owe money to the IRS but can’t afford to pay the whole amount?

If you owe taxes but can’t afford to pay those taxes, it’s important that you file anyway. If you don’t file, you’ll be penalized with a failure-to-file penalty. The IRS does offer payment plans to help you pay your tax bill. In the event you owe more than $10,000, it’s advisable that you hire a tax attorney, enrolled agent, or a CPA with experience setting up payment plans to help you.

When do I have to file my return?

Most years the deadline to file a tax return is April 15. However, federal holidays can delay that date. This year the deadline to file a tax return was April 18 because the usual date fell on Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C.

If for any reason you’re unable to file your returns by April 15, you should file an automatic six-month extension form. It’s important that this is an extension to file your return and not to pay your taxes. If you think you might owe taxes, you should estimate the amount and send in a check with your extension form. If you don’t, you’ll end up owing interest on the amount due and could be penalized with a failure-to-pay penalty.

What are the chances I could get audited?

Due to budget cuts at the IRS, audit rates are very low so there’s not much of a chance that you’ll be audited. However, you shouldn’t ignore the possibility. The IRS receives copies of all tax forms you receive from employers, banks, brokers, educational institutions, and partnerships. They then use an automated form-matching system to cross-check that the numbers on each return match the number they have on file. If there’s a discrepancy, it could trigger an audit.

Some who file a tax return don’t ask questions because they’re too embarrassed as they think they’re too simple. But failing to acquire all information could result in severe penalties. If you have questions regarding your taxes, come see the professionals at G.I. Tax to ensure you don’t run into any of these problems.