The tax season began on January 24th, 2022, 17 days earlier than last year. This tax season will be especially challenging for both the IRS and taxpayers due to the pandemic. Though the IRS said that it had been making preparations for the 2022 tax season for months, there could be processing delays. In order to have a smooth and safe tax season, taxpayers may consider these tips before filing their 2021 tax returns.
Paper returns may face delays in processing due to the pandemic. Therefore, the IRS is encouraging taxpayers to file electronically. “Filing electronically with direct deposit and avoiding a paper tax return is more important than ever this year,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. The faster a return is processed, the quicker taxpayers receive a refund. Furthermore, if taxpayers chose to receive their refund directly in their bank account, prepaid debit card or mobile apps, the transfer will be faster.
Claim Tax Credits Even If Not Required to File
Taxpayers that are not required to file a return can file a return to claim tax credits that they qualify for and receive a refund. This year, they can file a tax return to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit and receive the tax credit from the 2021 stimulus payments or reconcile advance payments of the Child Tax Credit. Other tax credits such as Earned Income Tax Credit can also be claimed by those qualifying for it.
Economic Impact Payment or an Advance Child Tax Credit
Taxpayers who received advance Child Tax Credit payments or Economic Impact Payments (American Rescue Plan stimulus payments) in 2021 will require the amounts of these payments when preparing their tax returns. To avoid delay in the processing of returns, they need to report the amount correctly. Taxpayers can check the amount they received on the IRS website – IRS.gov. The IRS is also mailing special letters to the recipients of these credits that contain essential information for tax filing purposes.
Tax Filing Deadline for 2022
The deadline to file a 2021 tax return is April 18th, 2022 for most taxpayers, three days more than the usual April 15 deadline. This is due to Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia. This impacts the tax filing deadline for everyone except taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts. Taxpayers in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 19, 2022, to file their returns because of the Patriots’ Day holiday.
Deadline for Filing for Extension
Also, the deadline for filing an extension to file is also April 18, 2022. Taxpayers granted an extension to file will need to file their tax return by October 17, 2002. Taxpayers need to be aware that filing for an extension to file only allows more time to file a return, and not to pay taxes. Even if a taxpayer is granted an extension to file, they will still need to pay taxes before the April 18th deadline.
Awaiting Processing of 2020 Tax Return?
The IRS processed approximately 169 million tax returns, as of December, 2021. However, many returns that had errors or those that require further review are still being processed by the agency. Taxpayers whose 2020 tax return is still being processed by the IRS do not need to wait. They can file their 2021 return.
Free IRS Tax Help Resources
To assist taxpayers in preparing and filing their tax returns, the IRS offers a variety of free tools and offline programs such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). Using a site locator tool, taxpayers can find a VITA or TCE site near their home and receive free basic tax preparation and filing help. VITA and TCE sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient locations across the country.
IRS Free File can help taxpayers to prepare and file their tax returns electronically. On this platform, guided tax preparation help is available to taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less. Taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is more than $73,000 can use free file fillable forms – electronic tax forms that can be filled online for free. However, they need to prepare their tax return themselves.
To check the refund status, taxpayers can use ‘Where’s My Refund’, a free IRS tool that allows taxpayers to check the status of their return and the expected date of receiving their refund.
Taxpayers can now use their IRS Online Account to access information about their federal tax account, including payments, tax records, etc. If they don’t have an account, they can open their Online Account using identity verification online.