The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that taxpayers can begin filing their 2021 tax returns on Monday, January 24, 2022. This, the agency says, will give the IRS time to "perform programming and testing that is critical to ensuring IRS systems run smoothly."
The Jan. 24 tax-filing start date for 2022 is 19 days earlier than 2021's start date of Feb. 12.
At the same time, the IRS warns that the upcoming filing season could be frustrating for taxpayers and tax preparers alike due to pandemic-related delays, a backlog of unprocessed returns from 2021, and years of budget cuts that have made the agency's job more difficult.
- Taxpayers can begin filing 2021 tax returns Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, 21 days earlier than last year.
- The IRS has warned there could be delays in issuing refunds in 2022 due to issues related to the pandemic, budget cuts, and unprocessed returns from 2021.
- The tax agency cautions taxpayers to file as early as possible after Jan. 24 and to make sure they have their paperwork in order.
- The IRS suggests taxpayers look for help online and use phone lines only if necessary.
- The agency says if you file electronically, choose direct deposit, and, assuming there are no issues with your return, you should get your refund within 21 days.
Get Started Now IRS Urges
The IRS hopes the earlier (by COVID standards) starting date will allow the agency to get a head start on processing, which IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig described as a "massive undertaking" in a statement released by the agency.
"IRS teams have been working non-stop these past several months to prepare," Rettig said. "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."
The IRS is mailing special notification letters to recipients of American Rescue Plan Economic Impact Payments or advance Child Tax Credit payments noting the amount received.
To avoid processing delays and speed refunds, the IRS urges people to follow these steps:
- Gather your 2021 tax records including Social Security number, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number, and this year's Identity Protection Personal Identification Number for calendar year 2022.
- Check IRS.gov for the latest tax information, including the latest on how to reconcile advance payments of the Child Tax Credit or claim a Recovery Rebate Credit for missing stimulus payments.
- Make sure you report correct amounts for any Economic Impact Payments or advance Child Tax Credits received in 2021.
- If you need help, use online resources such as the IRS Free File program instead of calling. Calling should be a last resort.
- Even if you are not normally required to file a tax return, you need to do so in order to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit, to receive a tax credit from 2021 stimulus payments, or to reconcile advance Child Tax Credit payments.
- File electronically and request direct deposit.
You can use a bank account, prepaid debit card, or mobile app for direct deposit. You will need to provide routing and account numbers.
File Anytime Between Jan. 24 and the April 18 Deadline
The filing deadline to submit your 2021 tax return or an extension to file, is Monday, April 18, 2022, for most taxpayers. The due date in 2022 is April 18, instead of April 15 because of the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia. Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts have until April 19, 2022, to file their returns due to the Patriots' Day holiday in those states.
Keep in mind that April 18 (or 19) is the last day to file or request an extension. The earlier you file (after Jan. 24) the sooner you will receive any refund you are due. If you are waiting for your 2020 return (or amended return) to be processed, you don't have to wait to file your 2021 return, according to the IRS.
If you request an extension to file by April 18 (or 19), you have until Monday, October 17, 2022, to submit your 2021 tax return. You must pay your estimated taxes, however, by the regular tax filing deadline of April 18 (or 19).
Things That May Delay Your Refund
Even though you can file your tax return as soon as Jan. 24, 2022, by law the IRS cannot issue a refund involving the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The purpose of the law is to prevent fraudulent refunds from being issued.
In some cases, even though you file electronically, your return may need manual review, resulting in a delay in processing your return and refund. This could be due to errors, missing information, or if there is suspected identity theft or fraud. The IRS will not always correspond with you about these questions during the review period, but it will send an explanation to you once the issue has been resolved.
Free File Available January 14
IRS Free File for taxpayers with income of $73,000 or less in 2021, will open January 14. Participating providers will accept completed returns and hold them until filing them electronically on January 24. The IRS notes that many commercial tax preparation software companies and tax professionals will also accept or begin preparing returns before January 24 in order to submit them on the initial acceptance date.
In addition to IRS Free File, the IRS's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs offer free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals. Full information about Free File and other tax preparation programs will be available on the Free File website later in January.