When Is Tax Season? Definition, Dates, and Deadlines

What Is Tax Season?

Tax season is the time period, generally between Jan. 1 and April 15 of each year, when individual taxpayers traditionally prepare financial statements and reports for the previous year and submit their tax returns. In the U.S., individuals typically must file their annual tax return by April 15 of the year following any reportable earnings. Tax returns submitted after the end of tax season are subject to late penalty fees and interest charges.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that the U.S. tax season begins on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, which is when the IRS begins accepting and processing 2022 tax year returns. The deadline is April 18, 2023.

Key Takeaways

  • Tax season is when individuals and businesses prepare and file their income taxes.
  • In the United States, tax season is typically from Jan. 1 until the April 15 filing deadline, although Jan. 23, 2023, is when the IRS will begin accepting returns for the 2022 tax year.
  • During tax season, employers, financial custodians, and other entities that generate income for individuals must provide documentation and statements for tax preparation purposes to ensure taxes are filed on time.

Understanding Tax Season

Tax season is the period within which all income taxes must be filed up until the deadline. The deadline each year is typically April 15; however, if this date falls on a weekend or holiday, it is moved to the next business day. For instance, in 2023, April 15 is a Saturday, and the following business day, Monday, April 17, is Emancipation Day, so as a result, taxpayers have until Tuesday, April 18, 2023, to file their 2022 tax returns and pay any taxes due. Tax returns submitted after this date are subject to late penalty fees.

Emancipation Day commemorates the day President Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act in 1862. The Act freed 3,000 enslaved people in the area and has been observed in D.C. since 2005.

During tax season, businesses must furnish employees, contract laborers, and others, such as royalty earners, with tax documents specifying data required to complete an individual's tax returns. People who are required to file a tax return generally must do so before April 15 or request an extension.

Tax season is a busy period for many tax preparers and accounting professionals. The three-and-a-half-month period at the beginning of the year is the time when the necessary paperwork, including wage and earnings statements (such as 1099s or W-2s), is collected to assemble tax returns.

While some individuals calculate their own tax returns, many rely on the expertise of tax preparers and accounting professionals to be certain the paperwork is filed correctly and to improve the financial outcome of the tax return. An individual who earned $73,000 or less (in 2022) can file taxes for free through the IRS Free File program. Individuals must file federal, state, and, in some cases, local tax returns.

The IRS advises that all taxpayers keep copies of their prior-year tax returns for at least three years. In the event of an IRS audit, a taxpayer will be required to present the last three years of their documents. In extreme cases, such as suspicion of fraud, they will be expected to show seven years of documents.

For tax year 2022, according to the IRS, a taxpayer with gross income (all income from all sources) of more than $12,950 will have to pay federal tax. Independent contractors, or what the IRS refers to as "non-employee compensation," must file a return and pay self-employment taxes on any net earnings from self-employment of $400 or more.

The deadline for employers to file and send W-2s to employees is January 31. Businesses that hire independent contractors must send these nonemployees Form 1099-NEC as of the 2022 tax year. This form replaced 1099-MISC, which still remains in effect for payments made for things like rent, prizes, and healthcare, among others.


Although the deadline to file your taxes is nearly always April 15, there are cases when the IRS may have to extend it. That was the case with the 2020 federal tax year. The agency extended the filing date for individuals until May 17, 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A further extension was granted to those living in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana because of the winter storms that hit those states in February 2021. The deadline for individuals and corporations to file their 2020 tax returns was pushed to June 15, 2021.

Then the following spring storms caused enough damage to Tennessee as well as parts of Alabama and Kentucky to grant further extensions. The IRS often extends filing deadlines for disaster areas, which they have done already in 2023.

Why Filing Early Can Make Sense

Even though many taxpayers file their tax returns on or by about April 15 every year, there is no need to put it off until the last minute. Indeed, filing an early tax return can make sense for a variety of reasons.

The IRS began accepting and processing 2022 tax year returns on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Even if you don't file early, there are reasons to begin preparation as soon as you can.

Starting your filing process early gives you the time you need to collect the evidence needed to claim all of your deductions. You will avoid the headache of the middle of the night stress over figures and receipts. Your accountant will have a more flexible schedule and will probably be able to start working on your accounts immediately. Also, by filing early, you will short-circuit would-be identity thieves.

When Can You Start Filing Taxes for 2023?

In 2023, filing taxes for tax year 2022 begins on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Taxes are due by Tuesday, April 18, 2023.

Is the Tax Filing Deadline for 2023 Extended?

The tax filing deadline for 2023 has been extended for those in California, Alabama, and Georgia due to them being affected by disaster situations. The original extension was till May 15, 2023, but that has been extended to Oct. 16, 2023.

When Should I Receive My Tax Refund in 2023?

The IRS states that most tax refunds are distributed within 21 calendar days of filing.

The Bottom Line

Tax season is the period when individuals and businesses prepare their documents for filing taxes, which are generally due on April 15. Most individuals and businesses start receiving the needed documents to fill out their tax forms in January. Therefore, tax season is usually considered to be between Jan. 1 and April 15.

At this time, people fill out their taxes themselves, use tax software, or hire tax professionals. Whichever method is chosen, it's important to get taxes in by the due date so as to avoid penalties, fees, and interest charges.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Internal Revenue Service. "IRS Sets January 23 as Official Start to 2023 Tax Filing Season; More Help Available for Taxpayers This Year."

  2. DC.gov, DC Emancipation Day. "A Historical Overview of DC Emancipation."

  3. DC.gov, DC Emancipation Day. "Emancipation Day Events: Celebrating the District of Columbia The Struggle for Freedom, Justice, Liberty, and Equality."

  4. Internal Revenue Service. "Topic No. 301 When, How, and Where to File."

  5. Internal Revenue Service. "Topic No. 305 Recordkeeping."

  6. Internal Revenue Service. "Rev. Proc. 2021-45."

  7. Internal Revenue Service. "Topic No. 554 Self-Employment Tax."

  8. Social Security Administration. "Deadline Dates To File W-2s."

  9. Internal Revenue Service. "Instructions for Forms 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC."

  10. Internal Revenue Service. "Tax Day for Individuals Extended to May 17: Treasury, IRS Extend Filing and Payment Deadline."

  11. Internal Revenue Service. "IRS Announces Tax Relief for Texas Severe Winter Storm Victims."

  12. Internal Revenue Service. "IRS: May 15 Tax Deadline Extended to October 16 for Disaster Area Taxpayers in California, Alabama, and Georgia."

  13. Internal Revenue Service. "IRS Extends May 17, Other Tax Deadlines for Victims of Tennessee Storms; Provides Special Guidelines for Disaster Area Individuals Needing Further Extensions."

  14. Internal Revenue Service. "Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions."

Take the Next Step to Invest
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.