The Internal Revenue Service announced that the nation’s tax season will start on Monday, January 24, 2022, when the tax agency will begin accepting and processing 2021 tax year returns.
The January 24 start date for individual tax return filers allows the IRS time to perform programming and testing that is critical to ensuring IRS systems run smoothly. Updated programming helps ensure that eligible people can claim the proper amount of the Child Tax Credit after comparing their 2021 advance credits and claim any remaining stimulus money as a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2021 tax return.
“Planning for the nation’s filing season process is a massive undertaking, and IRS teams have been working non-stop these past several months to prepare,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “The pandemic continues to create challenges, but the IRS reminds people there are important steps they can take to help ensure their tax return and refund don’t face processing delays. Filing electronically with direct deposit and avoiding a paper tax return is more important than ever this year. And we urge extra attention to those who received an Economic Impact Payment or an advance Child Tax Credit last year. People should make sure they report the correct amount on their tax return to avoid delays.”
The IRS encourages everyone to have all the information they need in hand to make sure they file a complete and accurate return. Having an accurate tax return can avoid processing delays, refund delays and later IRS notices. This is especially important for people who received advance Child Tax Credit payments or Economic Impact Payments (American Rescue Plan stimulus payments) in 2021; they will need the amounts of these payments when preparing their tax return.
Like last year, there will be individuals filing tax returns who, even though they are not required to file, need to file a 2021 return to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit to receive the tax credit from the 2021 stimulus payments or reconcile advance payments of the Child Tax Credit. People who don’t normally file also could receive other credits.
April 18 tax filing deadline for most
The filing deadline to submit 2021 tax returns or an extension to file and pay tax owed is Monday, April 18, 2022, for most taxpayers. By law, Washington, D.C., holidays impact tax deadlines for everyone in the same way federal holidays do. The due date is April 18, instead of April 15, because of the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia for everyone except taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts. Taxpayers in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 19, 2022, to file their returns due to the Patriots’ Day holiday in those states. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Monday, October 17, 2022, to file.
Awaiting processing of previous tax returns? People can still file 2021 returns
Rettig noted that IRS employees continue to work hard on critical areas affected by the pandemic, including processing of tax returns from last year and record levels of phone calls coming in.
“In many areas, we are unable to deliver the amount of service and enforcement that our taxpayers and tax system deserves and needs. This is frustrating for taxpayers, for IRS employees and for me,” Rettig said. “IRS employees want to do more, and we will continue in 2022 to do everything possible with the resources available to us. And we will continue to look for ways to improve. We want to deliver as much as possible while also protecting the health and safety of our employees and taxpayers. Additional resources are essential to helping our employees do more in 2022 – and beyond.”
The IRS continues to reduce the inventory of prior-year individual tax returns that have not been fully processed. As of December 3, 2021, the IRS has processed nearly 169 million tax returns. All paper and electronic individual 2020 refund returns received prior to April 2021 have been processed if the return had no errors or did not require further review.
Taxpayers generally will not need to wait for their 2020 return to be fully processed to file their 2021 tax returns and can file when they are ready.
File electronically and choose direct deposit
To speed refunds, the IRS urges taxpayers to file electronically with direct deposit information as soon as they have everything they need to file an accurate return. If the return includes errors or is incomplete, it may require further review that may slow the tax refund. Having all information available when preparing the 2021 tax return can reduce errors and avoid delays in processing.
Most individual taxpayers file IRS Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR once they receive Forms W-2 and other earnings information from their employers, issuers like state agencies and payers. The IRS has incorporated recent changes to the tax laws into the forms and instructions and shared the updates with its partners who develop the software used by individuals and tax professionals to prepare and file their returns.
Watch for IRS letters about advance Child Tax Credit payments and third Economic Impact Payments
The IRS started sending Letter 6419, 2021 advance Child Tax Credit, in late December 2021 and continues to do so into January. The letter contains important information that can help ensure the return is accurate. People who received the advance CTC payments can also check the amount of the payments they received by using the CTC Update Portal available on IRS.gov.
Eligible taxpayers who received advance Child Tax Credit payments should file a 2021 tax return to receive the second half of the credit. Eligible taxpayers who did not receive advance Child Tax Credit payments can claim the full credit by filing a tax return.
The IRS will begin issuing Letter 6475, Your Third Economic Impact Payment, to individuals who received a third payment in 2021 in late January. While most eligible people already received their stimulus payments, this letter will help individuals determine if they are eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit for missing stimulus payments. If so, they must file a 2021 tax return to claim their remaining stimulus amount.
Both letters include important information that can help people file an accurate 2021 tax return. If the return includes errors or is incomplete, it may require further review while the IRS corrects the error, which may slow the tax refund. Using this information when preparing a tax return electronically can reduce errors and avoid delays in processing.
The fastest way for eligible individuals to get their 2021 tax refund that will include their allowable Child Tax Credit and Recovery Rebate Credit is by filing electronically and choosing direct deposit.
Key filing season dates
There are several important dates taxpayers should keep in mind for this year’s filing season:
- January 14: IRS Free File opens. Taxpayers can begin filing returns through IRS Free File partners; tax returns will be transmitted to the IRS starting January 24. Tax software companies also are accepting tax filings in advance.
- January 18: Due date for tax year 2021 fourth quarter estimated tax payment.
- January 24: IRS begins 2022 tax season. Individual 2021 tax returns begin being accepted and processing begins
- January 28: Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day to raise awareness of valuable tax credits available to many people – including the option to use prior-year income to qualify.
- April 18: Due date to file 2021 tax return or request extension and pay tax owed due to Emancipation Day holiday in Washington, D.C., even for those who live outside the area.
- April 19: Due date to file 2021 tax return or request extension and pay tax owed for those who live in MA or ME due to Patriots’ Day holiday
- October 17: Due date to file for those requesting an extension on their 2021 tax returns