The IRS has delayed the start of the tax season by nearly two weeks, setting February 12 as the first day the agency will start accepting and processing last year’s tax returns. This delay will give the IRS enough time to test their systems and programming after new legislation was passed in December last year.
People who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) will likely not receive their refunds until March at the earliest, according to the IRS.
Employers and other businesses are still required to submit wage statements to employees and independent contractors by Jan. 31. So, while you can start preparing your tax returns as soon as you have all your documents, you won’t be able to file your returns with the IRS until mid-February at the earliest.
“Given the pandemic, this is one of the nation’s most important filing seasons ever. This start date will ensure that people get their needed tax refunds quickly while also making sure they receive any remaining stimulus payments they are eligible for as quickly as possible,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said.
Despite the extra time, it’s probably a good idea to start preparing your returns for filing as soon as you can. If you are eligible for a refund, filing your return as soon as possible can help you receive it earlier. It will also prevent criminals from filing falsified tax returns in your name and claiming fraudulent tax refunds, as they are blocked from doing so once you file with the IRS using your Social Security number.
The IRS also has encouraged taxpayers to electronically file their 2020 tax returns this tax season and avoid filing paper returns whenever possible. As of December last year, the IRS was still working through a backlog of nearly 7 million paper tax returns from 2020. Filing electronically can help you avoid delays in processing and receive any tax refunds earlier.