Monday, January 24, 2022, was the official start to this year’s tax season. By now, everyone should have received most of the information they need to make sure they file a complete and accurate return.
The start date for individual tax return filers is determined by how much time the IRS needs to perform programming and testing critical to ensuring IRS systems run smoothly. Updated programming helps ensure that eligible people can claim the proper amount of the Child Tax Credit after comparing their 2021 advance credits and claim any remaining stimulus money as a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2021 tax return.
Some returns, filed electronically or on paper, may need manual review, which delays the processing if IRS systems detect a possible error or missing information, or there is suspected identity theft or fraud. Some of these situations require the IRS to correspond with taxpayers, but some do not. This work does require special handling by an IRS employee, so, in these instances, it may take the IRS more than the normal 21 days to issue any related refund. In those cases where the IRS is able to correct the return without corresponding, the IRS will send an explanation to the taxpayer.
By law, the IRS cannot issue a refund involving the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February. However, eligible people may file their returns beginning on January 24. The law provides this additional time to help the IRS stop fraudulent refunds from being issued.
April 18 Tax Filing Deadline for Most Taxpayers
The filing deadline for most taxpayers to submit 2021 tax returns or an extension to file and pay any tax owed is Monday, April 18, 2022. Some taxpayers may have a different deadline, however.
By law, Washington, D.C., holidays impact tax deadlines for everyone in the same way federal holidays do. The due date is April 18, instead of April 15, because of the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia for everyone except taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts. Taxpayers in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 19, 2022, to file their returns due to the Patriots’ Day holiday in those states. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Monday, October 17, 2022, to file.
No Need to Wait for 2020 Returns to Be Processed
As of December 3, 2021, the IRS has processed nearly 169 million tax returns. All paper and electronic individual 2020 refund returns received prior to April 2021 have been processed if the return had no errors or did not require further review. There is, however, a backlog of prior-year individual tax returns that have not been fully processed. As such, taxpayers generally will not need to wait for their 2020 return to be fully processed to file their 2021 tax returns and can file when they are ready.
Key Items to Know Before Filing 2021 Tax Returns
Before filing a tax return, taxpayers should know about three key items:
Changes to the charitable contribution deduction. Taxpayers who don’t itemize deductions may qualify to take a deduction of up to $600 for married taxpayers filing joint returns and up to $300 for all other filers for cash contributions made in 2021 to qualifying organizations.
Check on advance child tax credit payments. Families who received advance payments will need to compare the advance child tax credit payments they received in 2021 with the amount of the child tax credit that they can properly claim on their 2021 tax return.
- Taxpayers who received less than the amount for which they’re eligible will claim a credit for the remaining amount of child tax credit on their 2021 tax return.
- Eligible families who did not get monthly advance payments in 2021 can still get a lump-sum payment by claiming the child tax credit when they file a 2021 federal income tax return next year. This includes families who don’t normally need to file a return.
In January 2022, the IRS began sending Letter 6419 (see What is IRS Letter 6419?, below) with the total amount of advance child tax credit payments taxpayers received in 2021. People should keep this and other IRS letters about advance child tax credit payments with their tax records. Individuals can also create or log in to IRS.gov Online Account to securely access their child tax credit payment amounts.
Economic impact payments and claiming the recovery rebate credit. Individuals who didn’t qualify for the third economic impact payment or did not receive the full amount may be eligible for the recovery rebate credit based on their 2021 tax information. They’ll need to file a 2021 tax return, even if they don’t usually file, to claim the credit.
Individuals will need the amount of their third economic impact payment and any plus-up payments received to calculate their correct 2021 recovery rebate credit amount when they file their tax return.
In early 2022, the IRS sent Letter 6475, Your Third Economic Impact Payment, which contains the total amount of the third economic impact payment and any plus-up payments received. People should keep this and other IRS letters about their stimulus payments with other tax records. Individuals can also create or log in to IRS.gov Online Account to securely access their economic impact payment amounts.