It’s opening day at the Internal Revenue Service! The IRS officially opens tax season by accepting returns for processing on Friday, more than two weeks later than last year. The agency used the extra time to program and test its systems to account for economic impact payments from the December stimulus bill.
“We are ready, positioned, and prepared to process as swiftly and accurately as possible,” said Ken Corbin, the IRS’ Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer, in a press conference Thursday. “We have a robust process to strength-test our system and have a number of IT [information technology] professionals and IRS personnel to work this week and weekend and holiday to monitor the system.”
Individual tax returns this year may be complicated by pandemic-related items, such as stimulus checks, unemployment insurance, and work-from-home deductions. And Corbin said the IRS expects to process more than 150 million returns. To ensure a smooth process, he urged people to file early and offered some tips:
- Gather all your documents. Most people should have already received their W-2 forms from employers and 1099 forms from other payers.
- Choose electronic filing and direct deposit. “This is the year to file electronically,” Corbin said. “Electronic filing ensures that recent tax law is incorporated, and it is the safest way to file an accurate return and the quickest way to get a refund. If you file by paper, prepare for a lengthy wait due to slower mail times and working while social distancing at the processing sites.”
- Refunds are expected to be issued in less than 21 days from filing, but some may take longer. Check the status of your return with the IRS’ “Where's My Refund?” tool 24 hours after it’s submitted.
- If you claim the earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit, the IRS can’t issue your refund before Feb. 15. The delay, per the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, gives the IRS time to stop fraudulent refunds from being paid to identity thieves. Your return information under “Where’s My Refund” will be updated by Feb. 22, and the IRS expects to deposit these refunds as soon as the first week of March.
- Use online IRS tools whenever possible because the hotline is expected to be busy.
- Since scammers are on the rise due to the pandemic, the IRS is offering everyone a 6-digit identity protection pin (IP Pin) only known to you and the IRS and valid for one year.
- Deadline for tax filings is April 15 unless individuals file for an extension to Oct 15.